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Image of the day: Straw plait merchants barter with French Prisoners of War at the Yaxley Barracks market (Norman Cross Depot), painted by Arthur Claude Cooke in 1906. The scene depicted is between 1806 and 1814.

At this point in time Yaxley’s market generated more revenue than the market in neighbouring Peterborough. An illegal trade in straw plait flourished with help from local publicans and caused a national outcry as straw hatmakers complained bitterly. Punishment for trafficking this commodity? In the case of one Yaxley man, two days in the pillory at Norman Cross.

Examples of POW straw work and carved bone work are available to view in the Peterborough Museum collection and at the Norman Cross Art Gallery.

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