Going to the Fair: or Market
There were "Sloe Fairs", "Jack and John Fairs" for hiring labour like Statute Fairs, sheep fairs, horse fairs, cattle fairs, or mixed fairs selling everything the country folk would require until the next event. According to Daniel Defoe, Farnham in Surrey had the greatest corn-market in England, dating back to 1247. Billericay, a village in Essex in 1791 had two annual fairs, July 22nd and October 7th with a hill fair for cattle. Sussex had the greatest number of fairs in a single year in 1750, with some 150 events. The seasons seemed to wait for the fairs "On Heffel Fair" the people of Sussex used to say " the old women lets the cuckoo out"; Spring they meant came in with Heathfield Fair. Many were for the small rural craftsman to sell their wares from the "cottage industries" which developed in the 1600's and 1700's. "Welsh cattle were sold at the November fair in Horsham in 1609 and perhaps had been in 1587, on the common east of the town." "The Michaelmas fair at Steyning, being reckoned one of the chief fairs of the county, where two or three hundred Welsh cattle were sold in a day."
Weyhill, a lonely village some three miles from Andover in Hampshire was the largest sheep fair ever held in England according to Defoe. Some £300,000 would have changed hands there at one fair. It was a mixed fair with cattle, horses and household products. Gilbert White in his diaries of Selborne tells us that the village sent their hops there every October, some thirty miles distant. William Cobbett who was a great believer in fairs, uses the purchase of hunting whips at Weyhill to show how much cheaper such articles could be bought from craftsmen working at their own homes in the country and selling what they made at fairs, than from those who had expensive shops to maintain in county towns like Salisbury. At the time of Weyhill fair assemblies were held in the Town Hall at Andover, "and the entire neighbourhood was a-flutter with excitement". The Reverend H White, rector of Fyfield and brother of Gilbert White of Selborne, tells us in his diaries how he bought not only his cheddar cheese there, but also Sedgemoor quills for his harpsichord. So much for the rural areas, where the fair had it's strongest hold, while today they are to be seen in the form of the Agricultural Shows.

In the summer of 1603 bubonic plague returned to the streets of London, and James 1st issued a "proclamation", closing all fairs and markets in an effort to stop the disease from spreading.
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