Famous for its Stilton
cheese and pork pies
, this town is set in the East Midlands
, in the county of Leicestershire
The area was populated during the Bronze Age, and the site came to be important when the Romans built the Fosse Way road, at which time it became a staging post, both for traders and military traffic. From the 5th century onward it was an important market for horticultural and dairy products, wool and woven products, and hides. Still later, it became a centre for the production of Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pies, and these products still account for much of its fame and income. In addition, grain milling and ironstone production and processing were important in the 17th and 18th centuries.
It's grown a little since its mention in the Domesday Book, when it boasted a grand 200 inhabitants, with two priests and a weekly market (the third oldest in the country). Nowadays the town's population of around 25,000 rely heavily on the local agricultural industry, especially sheep farming, the town having avoided much of the industrialisation which has blighted the surrounding area. Bearing the ubiquitous label "Historic Market Town" means that tourism also accounts for much of the local income, although, at the time of writing, foot and mouth disease means that many local areas of interest (especially footpaths) are closed.
Apologies to the residents, but it's actually quite a dull town! The Bricklayer's Arms was a nice enough pub last time I was there, some nice ales but little atmosphere, and the Horseshoe had some half-decent beer and some pub games, but don't go expecting a fabulous time unless you like the small market-town scene.