Hatherleigh, in the heart of Devon, lays claim to being the smallest town in the county and it is a proper “market town”. Not many towns with a market heritage can own that title in the present tense but on at least two days a week this is an important commercial hub for the locality.
Monday is auction day for sheep and cows. Tuesday is for rabbits, bantams, geraniums and any other old house clearance croc of the sort that makes its way here as if the nation were tilted sharply down to the left so all the floggable junk eventually tumbles into the south west.
At Hatherleigh, men in flat caps put on a tie to go to market and there are beards and side-burns to be seen that make the Tyroleans look baby faced. There are auctioneers who talk faster than a New Monkey MC and punters at the sales who are so much part of the fittings that they get nicknames like “Shoot” and “Lofty”.
Hatherleigh is a great place to break the ice if you want to get into bidding at auctions. There is all sorts of stuff that goes for a couple of quid so it won’t break the bank. Be careful not to scratch your nose at the wrong moment, though, or you might be going home with a rusty milk separator or a cockrel for a fiver.
If you are ever in North Devon on a Tuesday, the Hatherleigh market is not to be missed.
Be careful to ask for a “Devonshire Pasty” and not a “Cornish Pasty” at the cheap-as-chips, on-site cafe – or they will run you out of town. And if you have any unused prostates kicking around, then please consider participating in the “prostate scrappage scheme” that the rotary club are organising (see picture).