History of Buckingham

Originally the town nestled in the natural loop of the Great River Ouse, where Bucca's people lived in the seventh century, but developed past this boundary and is now the thriving town of Buckingham you see today.

The County town of Buckinghamshire from the 10th century, Buckingham prospered as a medieval market town, with royal charters from Mary Tudor in 1554, and Charles II in 1684, establishing market days and two annual fairs, which still take place today.

In the early 18th century Buckingham was hit by a disastrous fire; much of its centre had to be rebuilt. In spite of the coming of the canal and the railway, Buckingham was little altered until well into the 20th century. Today, it retains much of its unique market heritage, with its twice weekly street market dating back to 1554. Now there is also a Saturday flea market as well as occasional specialty markets. There is plenty to see and do, with a variety of independent shops, restaurants and cafes, historical buildings, a museum and plenty of parks and green spaces.

The Old Gaol and The Chantry Chapel are both open to visitors to look at internally. Visit our walks guide for more information about exploring historic Buckingham.

There are also many varied events that take place in the town throughout the year, including the Charter Fair, Music in the Market, the Christmas Parade and the Fringe Week.

For more information

Buckingham's Historic Charter Fair

Buckingham has enjoyed its Charter Fairs for over 450 years. They provide an opportunity for townsfolk and those from the surrounding area to “let their hair down” on a couple of weekends before the onset of winter.

The Charter Fairs were granted by Royal Charter – in 1554, Mary Tudor granted the free Borough of Buckingham, and a further Royal Charter by Charles II in 1664 also permitted the town to have its market – another tradition that continues to this day.

Originally, the Charter Fair would have been mainly a hiring fair where men could apply for work. These would have been huge events, attracting people from a wide area and accompanied by pedlars, stall holders, fortune tellers, wire-walkers, fire-eaters, roundabouts and other entertainments.

Today, the Charter Fair is brought to us by the Guild of Showmen – a professional body bound by a strict code of rules governing their operation. Changes in the rides and stalls from year to year mean that careful planning is needed before the fair is brought into town. As well as working closely with the Nichols brothers who currently manage the Buckingham Charter Fairs on the Guild’s behalf, the Town Council arranges the road closures and puts up no parking notices.

The road closures ensure that obstructions, including some street furniture and the odd parked car, can be removed in time for everything to be sited. All rides and stalls arrive in a pre-set order and within a tight time span, to avoid clogging up the by-pass and other approach roads. Everything is then set up, power cables are run, rides are levelled and safety-checked, and stalls are assembled and stocked.

Buckingham’s Charter Fairs are part of our long heritage, continue to be enjoyed by huge numbers in the area, and do bring benefits to our historic town.

Please note there are also road closures for the Remembrance Day Parade and Christmas Parade; look on our website, Facebook, Twitter or in our Buckingham Town Matters newsletter for details.