Kerr Cameron

The English Fair

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Colourful, boisterous and often bawdy, the old-time fairs punctuated the routine of the year like exploding stars in the firmament. They were also a vital part of England's economy. This comprehensive and readable study examines a long neglected subject and its impact on trade and everyday lives. 

Based not only on wide exploration of local sources,museum and library archives, but also on extended interviews with old farmers and dealers, the book traces the fair's history fromearly Saxon times to the present day,examining why today's fairs are based purely on entertainment rather than trade.  David Kerr Cameron traces the fair's history from its lowly beginnings in the ancient landscape, through its periods of growth under the patronage of the Church and the granting of royal charters and its eventual transformation into the all-important livestock and specialist events of the regions. From Carlisle to Cornwall, he highlights the fair's fame and its infamy: the dealers, the merchants, the cheap jacks, the jugglers and the fiddlers, the ever-present pickpockets and prostitutes, and the people who flo cked to it and made it what it was - exciting, explosive and often menacing and violent. 

Included here are the great fairs of the late Middle Ages with their staggering gamut of commodities; the tremendous sheep gatherings of the West Country; the turbulent cattle fairs of Barnet and St Faith's that sent beef to London's tables; the notorious cloth fair of St Bartholomew; and the mop fairs where servants were ritually bought and sold.  

This book is a rich tapestry, superbly illustrated in full colour and black and white, drawing together the many strands of theEnglish fair's story and charting its final,unlamented decline. It is a vivid, fascinating,sometimes violent tableau.


Books by David Kerr Cameron