How typical Midsummer Common Fair is of the way that surviving Charter Fairs have developed and changed over time

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Originally, a Fair was traditionally either a religious festival or some other form of holiday, but by the 11th century, “a fair was a temporary market”. Source 1 is likely to be a reliable source because it is written in the GCSE Booklet description of Charter Fairs. They took place once a year. Generally, they tended to be large events, attracting people from miles around, which usually lasted a number of days. For many people, these Charter Fairs were a great opportunity to supply people with goods and services and to stock up a years supply with certain goods that would, otherwise, not normally be easily locally available.

Often, the Charter Fairs occurred on public holidays; therefore, many people were free to attend. In the past, the main purpose of a fair was to allow tradesmen and customers to meet and do business; however this is no longer the case. Over the past two centuries this has become less important, because “buying and selling at fairs had almost stopped completely by the late 1800s. This was a result of better transport links and the introduction of more local shops…. ” Source 2 is. As source 1, likely to be a reliable source as it is written in the GCSE booklet description of Charter Fairs.

Nowadays they are fun and entertainment events – more appealing to the younger generations. This change took place so that the Charter Fairs would survive. Furthermore they used to involve performers as they realised it would be good business. Instead, however, “this often caused problems such as drunkenness and prostitution. ” The newspaper that this quote was taken from is quite likely to be an accurate source as it is from a newspaper article written at the time, June 25th 1784, the Nottingham Weekly Chronicle. Midsummer Fair is a Charter Fair.

This is because Midsummer Fair was granted a Charter, by King Henry II on the 18th July, 1229. “… know you, that we have granted, and by this Charter have confirmed to God… ” Source 3 is a reliable source because this quote is from the legal document that allowed Midsummer Fair to happen. Midsummer Fair is a very typical Charter fair as it follows the same particular pattern. It has generally been successful since 1229, which is the same year as it was granted its Charter by King Henry, where it was granted to the Church, Barnwell Priory.

As the Charter was granted, this is one of the factors that make Midsummer Fair a Charter Fair. The source below is an old painting of Barnwell Priory Church, painted in the 1600s, Source 4. This could be an unreliable source as it is a painting which could be part imaginative, however it could be reliable as the artist may have stood in front of it painting in which case, it could be an almost exact copy. Furthermore, as typical to Charter Fairs, Midsummer Fair always begins with an opening ceremony, lead by the Mayor.

However, unlike the old tradition of the mayor opening the fair then throwing newly minted coins to the children, they now throw chocolate coins instead. There was some conflict over who should have control over the fair between the town council and the University of Cambridge. Nevertheless, in 1506, the Mayor took control. “… on March 23rd…… the Cambridge town mare has been granted full control… ” Source 5, is likely to be reliable as it is from the ‘History of Great Britain’ encyclopaedia.

As time progressed, the Fair grew in length and began to change its content. Like many other fairs, it began specialising in buying and selling china, granting it the name ‘Pot Fair’. It was also a horse and cattle fair, which attracted large numbers of gypsy travellers. However, when horses became less important as the town council stopped providing a site for the travellers, which was a large change for Midsummer Fair to accommodate and could have contributed to the beginning of its decline.

The following Source 24, a photo, which shows only the truth so, is factual and reliable, taken of Midsummer Fair in 1955, demonstrates the fair as being an entertainment centre, with rides, food and confectionary stools. Finally, like all Charter Fair, Midsummer Fair suffered a decline in the 1800s and 1900s because of an increase in violent and anti-social behaviour. “The abominations which are practiced… too notorious to need repetition… ” Source 6, could be unreliable as it is a letter to a newspaper, and so may be more opinionated than factual.

However, this may not be an entirely accurate source as it is very opinionated, “too notorious to need repetition”. This could be a letter describing what a person witnessed so therefore may not be very reliable. This quote is taken from the Cambridge Chronicle in 1796 and discusses some of the problems occurring at Midsummer Fair. Another Fair that has been running every year for centuries is Nottingham Goose Fair. Like Midsummer Fair, Nottingham Goose Fair is also a typical Charter Fair and was granted its Charter by King Edward I in 1284. “It began on the Feast of St. Edmund and lasted 12 days.

The fair was opened by the Lord Mayor, as was Midsummer Fair. As late as 1813, Nottingham Goose Fair was still primarily for the exchange of produce and livestock. However, like all Charter Fairs nowadays, it has developed into an entertainment fair. Nevertheless, before Nottingham Goose Fair became a funfair, it, as well as all other typical Charter Fairs suffered a decline. The price of cheese was raised by a third in 1764, which caused “cheese riots” and resulted in the flattening of the Mayor.

Midsummer Fair did not suffer this level of violence but complaints were frequent. … and all but the foolish and frivolous have ceased to derive enjoyment from such scenes. ” Source 7, was a quote an article, written by a journalist taken from the Cambridgeshire Chronicle in June 1859. This is a reliable source because it was written at the time by someone who witnessed it so is a primary source. These two pictures below demonstrate the change that Nottingham Goose Fair has endured over the past few centuries. Sources 8 and 9 are likely to be reliable as they are photographs so a true representation of Nottingham Goose Fair as it existed.

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