The towne of Evesham is meetly large and well builded of tymbre ... The market is very celebrate.—LELAND, circ. 1540.
The town of Evesham consists, by reason of its insular position, of only one thoroughfare. The river winds round enclosing it on three sides, so that, there being but one bridge, there is no other outlet except towards the north. There are four principal streets: High Street, which was in all probability an extension of the “celebrate” market along the Worcester and North Road; Vine Street and Bridge Street, both skirting the boundary wall of the abbey precincts, and so probably the oldest in their origin; and Port Street, the main thoroughfare of Bengeworth, forming part of the London road beyond the river bridge. High Street, Bridge Street, and Vine Street lead from the Market Place, and here we will stand and look around. On the north side is the “market-sted,” “fayre and large” as when Leland viewed it, but now converted to private uses. It is a fine example of Gothic timber construction; but to think of it as it appeared to Leland’s admiring gaze, we must imagine the walls and partitions of the lower storey cleared away, and fancy it supported only by massive pillars of oak, roughly hewn and of great strength. Below was the market sheltered from the rain, and such as may still be seen at Ledbury and other places; and above were chambers devoted to the business of the town, and presumably of the various guilds, of which little is now known.
About 1586 the “New Town Hall” was erected, probably of stone from the ruins of the Abbey, on the west side of the square; but from this point the older part of the building is entirely obscured by recent additions, and to understand its first appearance we must walk round it into Vine Street. The general plan, though the difference in material necessitates changes in form, is much the same as in the older Booth Hall, for by this name the older market hall is known. There is the basement, open until lately