Morpeth received its Market Charter from King John in 1199, and so celebrated the 800th anniversary of the market in 1999.
Up until the 1950’s, it was a major livestock market - at one stage it was the largest livestock market in the North East - and the local Morpeth dialect still has a number of words deriving from Romany reflecting this history.
Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, it became a very successful street market run by the local council. But towards the end of the ‘80’s and in the early ‘90’s, it suffered from competition with private sector markets springing up in neighbouring towns. By the mid-1990’s, it had dwindled to a dozen or so stalls ‘round the back of’ the bus station.
In 1999, alongside the 800th anniversary celebration of the Market Charter, the local council launched a monthly farmers’ market in Morpeth. Several of the producers who started up businesses selling at the farmers’ market are now also regulars at the Wednesday Charter Market, giving it a real local feel.
In 2002-3, the Market Place in Morpeth was refurbished and expanded. And in 2005, the market was relocated onto the Market Place bringing it back into the heart of the town. Alongside this, Castle Morpeth Borough Council invested in new stalls and equipment to relaunch the market in its new location.
On Saturday Sept 6th 2008, Morpeth experienced the worst flood in over a hundred years, with more than a thousand homes and businesses evacuated. The farmers’ market on the Sunday was cancelled, but the Charter Market on the following Wednesday, just four days after the flood, went ahead as usual.
Since 2009, the markets have been managed by Northumberland County Council. In 2013, the council agreed an innovative public-private partnership with the Sanderson Arcade for resourcing, developing and promoting the markets. The partnership provided new stalls branded with the ‘More in Morpeth’ logo, and commissioned the installation of stall anchor points on the Market Place.
Since 2013, the Morpeth Food & Drink Festival has been held to coincide with the October farmers' market on the first Saturday in October.