My personal favourite market town has to be Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire.
This really is a town of hidden gems, a great riverside setting, and a truly colourful (and bloody) history.
At any time of year the town has a fantastic atmosphere but especially during the towns main annual event - The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, which is now regarded as the largest free medieval gathering of its kind in Europe, and is host to the marvellous battle re-enactment, The Battle of Tewkesbury.
Tewkesbury is also home to a magnificent Abbey which is the second largest parish church in England. It dates back to around 1102 and has the largest Norman church tower in existence. The abbey is also famous for its wonderful medieval stained glass.
Throughout Tewkesbury you can find many fine medieval buildings to explore, with many of them open to the public, as they house shops, cafes or pubs. One of them is an old coaching Inn 'The Royal Hop Pole' which is mentioned by the great Charles Dickens in his novel 'The Pickwick Papers' so it is thought that he must have at least visited the place, if not stayed there.
At the opposite end of Tewkesbury (just a 5 min walk from the Hop pole) you'll also find the oldest pub in Gloucestershire 'Ye Old Black Bear' which dates back to 1308.
Don't miss! - When visiting Tewkesbury, people often miss or overlook the little medieval alleyways dotted around the town, so its worth keeping an eye out for these as you wander the main streets. A quiet stroll down one of these ancient narrow alleyways really does fill you with a great sense of history, and helps to highlight the beauty and importance of this wonderful town. You’ll also find buildings of interest down them too, including a 15th century Baptist Chapel (the earliest Baptist meeting house in the UK) which is well worth exploring.