SECRETARY: MRS. SUSAN GOODING (Tel: 01404 812845)
TREASURER: MIKE COLES
HISTORY OF SIDBURY FAIR
Sidbury was granted a charter for a Fair in 1291 by Edward I when he was up in Berwick upon Tweed. The Fair was to be held for three days to cover the Feast of the Virgin Mary in September.
The charter was probably granted because Sidbury was already a place of pilgrimage when people came to the church to give alms at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pity. It would, no doubt, have boosted the lives of the villagers where they could sell cattle, etc and garden produce.
The commencement of the Fair was noted by the appearance of gloved hand out of a window in the main street. Although the Charter said there could be merrymaking, no one was to be a nuisance to anyone else.
This gloved hand is also to be seen in the roof of the North transept in the church where there is also a carving of a King's head.
The Fair was discontinued after the Reformation when the Shrine was destroyed. A fair was reinstated in 1820 for the farmers due to their impoverished state when free trade was introduced after the Napoleonic War.
Hot pennies were thrown into the street for the children to collect - a boon for the equally impoverished villagers of the time.
Hot pennies are still thrown today from the Church Street walls but now to the children of Sidbury School who look forward to the event every year.
Sidbury Fair has grown over the years with local produce and craft stalls, competitions etc and a livestock auction still takes place. Over the years the fair has extended to a whole week of events and gives local clubs and organisations an opportunity to raise funds. The Fair Committee is made up of local residents and is chaired by Sir John Cave of Sidbury Manor.
TRANSLATION OF THE SIDBURY FAIR CHARTER GRANTED BY KING EDWARD I in 1291
To the Archbishop etc greetings know that we have conceded and by this our charter confirmed to our chosen in Christ, the Dean and Chapter of St. Peter, Exeter, that to them and their successors for ever (is granted) one market in each week on Tuesday at their manor of Sidbury in the country of Devon and one fair each year there lasting for three days, namely, on the eve, on the day and on the morrow of the nativity of the blessed Mary and that market and that fair to be without annoyance to the neighbourhood of the market and neighbourhood of the fair. Wherefore it is our will etc With these witnesses, the venerable father ("in Christ" probably missing at end of line), the Bishop of Bath and Wells and ? Durham with the oaths of our brother Edmund, Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, John de St. John, Walter de Bulcamp, Gilbert de Wrideshale, Elias de Hannilt ("and" probably missing from end of line) Others. Given through the hands of those sworn at Berwick on Tweed 28th day of June.