Percy Reboul and John Heathfield acknowledge the contribution made to shopping by the organic markets of old.

For most of us, the supermarket meets our need for fresh produce such as meat, vegetables and fruit. It also has other attractions for the buyer: refrigerated counters ensure freshness; everything is under one roof and an adjacent car park makes it easy to transport supplies home.

The shoppers of yesteryear were much less fortunate. In the Middle Ages, most people walked everywhere. There were no methods of keeping food fresh. Fruit and vegetables, in spite of all being grown locally, had to be eaten within a few days. The same was true of meat. There were very few shops and people went to a central place, the market, that was hopefully nearby and where goods were sold from open-air, dust-laden stalls.

In Chipping Barnet, that central place belonged to the Abbot of St Albans who, in August 1199, had been granted by King John the right to hold a market every Thursday. He did well out of it by charging people to put up their stalls or sell live animals.

The original market was held in front of where St John's church stands today - an ideal location at the top of Barnet Hill.

Not surprisingly, there have been a number of changes over the centuries. In 1588, market day was changed to a Monday and, later in the 18th Century, to a Wednesday. In 1960, an extra day, Saturday, was introduced. The location was also changed. In the mid-19th Century, because of the large number of stagecoaches coming through Barnet en-route to London, the market was moved away from the traffic to a space adjoining the St Albans Road.

In considering new proposed developments to the market, we can but hope that some recognition can be given (a plaque perhaps) to the fact that the market has served the citizens of Barnet for more than 800 years.