Stow-on-the-Wold has an important war history, most notably the English Civil War. A large number of fights and battles took place here, and many buildings took hits of some sort. St. Edward’s church took a fair amount of damage during one skirmish.

In 1646, the Royalists were defeated in Stow and hundreds of prisoners were kept at St. Edward’s for a time.

It’s believed that Stow-on-the-Wold became a hot spot for military battles thanks to its location about atop an 800 foot hill. It’s believed that Stow actually developed as a fort during the Iron Age – that its hilltop location was scouted as a perfect spot for good defensive and offensive postures.

Trade along the Fosse Way (a Roman road) is what helped to develop Stow in the middle ages, and a large market was set up in 1107 by Henry I. 200 years later, the fair was designed as an annual 7-day market held in August, but in 1476. it was changed to two fairs – one in May and one in October.

The fairs were originally set up as a livestock trading service, and people came from far and wide for this purpose (reportedly more than 20,000 sheep changed hands at one 19th Century fair), but as the town grew larger and more prosperous, the fairs became large market places for handmade items, livestock and other items. The fair is still held twice a year with a variety of offerings for the large numbers of visitors who come.