The October Fair

Market Harborough used to hold an annual fair in October.  The Fair would begin on 18th October, the eve of St Dionysius, and last for nine days.  It was something which was looked forward to for months.  The town would be packed with people and stalls selling produce.  Farmer’s waggons would bring in people from the surrounding villages and it would be impossible to move through the crowds of people.  There would be shows and stalls standing in the Square and High Street and around the Church.  Wombell’s Menagerie stood in the High Street and entertained the crowds by playing classical music.  There would be a Theatre of Varieties where you could see a whole range of plays in a half hour’s performance.  If you have an agricultural labourer or servant in your family, then this sort of fair is where domestic and farm servants were hired for the year.  Horses would be sold in the High Street; sheep would be sold on the Square and Cattle would be sold in Coventry Road, Fairfield Road and the Cricket Field.  Private houses would try and cash in on the extra people willing to spend their money by supplying ‘intoxicating liquors’ and were known as ‘Bough Houses’ because they hung evergreens above their doorways. No wonder it was looked forward to so much!

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