Stamford fairs tradition lives on

The cancellation of this year’s Mid-Lent Fair in Stamford also means that one of the traditions associated with the annual event cannot take place.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:39 pm
This is the Grantham version of the fair proclamation. The Stamford version is similar, substituting the town's name. EMN-210316-160731001

Although a Royal Charter for the fair was granted in 1484 under the reign of King Richard III, it opens with the Mayor reading a proclamation relating to the charter confirmed by King William IV, the monarch from 1789 to 1830, which sets out the rules governing the event and the behaviour expected of those attending.

The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, which organises the fairs, says that under the charter terms the proclamation should be read every year and they wanted to draw attention to it because that had not been possible due to lockdown restrictions.

Included in the proclamation are rules governing the sale of livestock and a command for all people at the fair to keep the peace “upon pain for every assault or affray made twenty shillings and for every bloodshed forty shillings.”

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The fair at Stamford, as well as the one in Grantham, would originally have been more like a market where people traded their wares and had to “pay all such duties of toll for goods and chattels bought and sold.”

This year’s fair was due in Stamford from Monday (March 15) to Saturday (March 20), but was called off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cancellation decision was taken jointly by South Kesteven District Council, working in association with the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.

South Kesteven’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Coun Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, said: “The Mid-Lent fairs are a longstanding tradition and there is a lot of history associated with them.

“Under the circumstances it is right that they have been cancelled, but it is also right that we acknowledge their place among the traditions of Grantham and Stamford.”