3. Horsefair Green
Horsefair Green Stony Stratford
Horsefair Green is so called because at one time horses were sold here at a weekly meeting which took place on Fridays. In its time, this piece of land has been the scene of horse dealing, timber milling and public recreation. It remains the main green open space area for the centre of Stony Stratford.

(For the general history of the Horsefair Green, see the History of Stony Stratford section)

Armistice Day service at Stony Stratford War Memorial in 1920s
An Armistice Day service at the War Memorial in the 1920s

Despite past, present and possibly future pressures to use it for other purposes, its status has been protected by a series of legal judgements backed by public opinion.

Over the years, orders have been issued for the ground to be levelled; for encroaching gardens to be removed; for sawpits to be filled in. The fencing of the Green took place in the latter half of the 19th century, and in the early 1920s a war memorial was erected at the western end.

Stony Stratford War Memorial in Horsefair Green Stony Stratford War Memorial in Horsefair Green
Horsefair Green, looking west to the War Memorial (right)

One of the personal recollections of the Green around 1900 was given by a Mr A G Shillingford: On the top side of Horsefair Green lived a blacksmith, Mr Ted Downing, who was a clever man in the making of fancy ironwork for Church doors, etc. His house is still there, but two houses were built in the yard near where his shop was, and where I used to take horses to be shod, as he employed others for that purpose. I used to stand by his lathe and watch him twisting the iron rods, or making the leaves, etc. On one occasion he said about a certain job, 'Now this is going to Westminster Abbey'!

I remember a row of houses farther along the top side being built by Mr Tyrell. On the second and third days of August was Stratford Fair, and the part of the Green where the War Memorial now stands was occupied by Thurstons' Swish-backs with stalls down the left hand side of Silver Street, and more stalls on the Market Square, a man frying sausages near the old Elm Tree....

Maybe, as you stand in the centre of Horsefair Green, you can detect a faint echo of those simpler, somehow more innocent days.

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