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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Bartholomew Fair was one of London's pre-eminent summer fairs. A charter for the fair was granted to Rahere by Henry I to fund the Priory of St Bartholomew; and from 1133 to 1855 it took place each year on 24 August within the precincts of the Priory at West Smithfield, outside Aldersgate of the City of London. The fair continued, after the Dissolution within the Liberty of the parish of St Bartholomew-the-Great.

The fair began as a two-week event, but in 1691, it was shortened to only four-days; and with a change in the calendar, the fair commenced on 3 September from 1753.[1] A trading event for cloth and other goods as well as a pleasure fair, the event drew crowds from all classes of English society.[2][3]

It was customary for the Lord Mayor of London to open the fair on St Bartholomew's Eve. The Mayor would stop at Newgate Prison to accept a cup of sack (fortified white wine) from the governor.[1] The Merchant Taylors Guild processed to Cloth Fair to test the measures for cloth, using their standard silver yard, until 1854. The annual fair grew to become the chief cloth sale in the kingdom.[1]

By 1641, the fair had achieved international importance. It had outgrown the former location along Cloth Fair, and around the Priory graveyard to now cover four parishes: Christ Church, Great and Little St Bartholomew’s and St Sepulchre’s. The fair featured sideshows, prize-fighters, musicians, wire-walkers, acrobats, puppets, freaks and wild animals.[1]

The fair was suppressed in 1855 by the City authorities for encouraging debauchery and public disorder.[1][4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e City of London. "Smithfield Market". http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/nr/rdonlyres/24b6c04d-ff99-445d-a2ca-7e618b42bf85/0/lh_gag_b3smithfieldmarketinformation.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-23.  
  2. ^ Morley, Henry (1859). Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair. London. ISBN 1443749443. http://books.google.com/books?id=7aYVwHDChtwC.  
  3. ^ Walford, Cornelius (1883). Fairs, Past and Present. pp. 164–244. ISBN 083373668X. http://books.google.com/books?id=f6kTim3rdCsC.  
  4. ^ Cavendish, Richard (2005). "London's Last Bartholomew Fair: September 3rd, 1855". History Today 55 (9): 52.  

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Bartholomew Fair: A Comedy
by Ben Jonson
This work is respelled from the original, but otherwise intact. To read the text in early modern English, as it was originally published, see Bartholmew Fayre.
Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus: nam spectaret populum ludis attentius ipsis, ut sibi praebentem, mimo spectacula plura. Scriptores autem narrare putaret assello fabellam surdo.

—Hor. lib. 2. Epist. I.

Act. I.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BARTHOLOMEW FAIR, a fair held in West Smithfield, London, on St Bartholomew's Day (24th of August, O.S.) from 1133 to 1855. The charter authorizing its holding was granted by Henry I. to his former minstrel, Rahere, who had taken orders and had founded the priory of St Bartholomew close by. For many centuries the fair lasted a fortnight, but in 1691 it was shortened to four days only. In 1641 it had become so large that it involved no less than four parishes: Christ Church, Great and Little St Bartholomew's and St Sepulchre's. It was customary for the lord mayor of London to open the fair formally on St Bartholomew's Eve, and on his way to stop at Newgate where he received from the governor a cup of sack. In 1753, owing to the change in the calendar, the fair was proclaimed on the 3rd of September. During its earlier history the fair grew to be a vast national market and the chief cloth sale in the kingdom. Down to 1854 it was usual for the representative of the Merchant Taylors' Gild to proceed to the cloth fair which formed part of Bartholomew fair, and test the measures used for selling cloth there by the company's silver yard. The fair was finally closed in 1855 For a full account see Prof. H. Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (1859).


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