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Site of the Fair, Stow Green

Reference Name MLI90664

Site of the Fair, Stow Green

Site of the fair at Stow Green.


In 1268, Henry III granted to Sempringham Priory a yearly fair to be held at the feast of St John the Baptist (24th June) at the manor of Stow. The fair continued to be held throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods until it was eventually cancelled permanently in 1915, ostensibly due to "the exigencies of the war" although it is possible that concerns about the fair's reputation for drunken behaviour and violence also contributed to the descision to end it. The dates of the fair appear to have varied considerably over the years, although it always fell in June or early July. During the post-medieval period there were two fairs, a Horse Fair held in early June and the "Head Fair" held later in June or early in July, and it was suggested in the 18th century that the two fairs had originally been one which ran for the whole time between the current two. The traders appear to have set up temporary wooden booths for the duration of the fair, although some of these seem to have become more permanent structures. As well as traders, entertainers attended the fair. There were also Constables present to try and maintain law and order although not always successfully - in 1826 a fight resulted in the death of one man and the subsequent hanging of another (although another account claims that the survivor was indicted at the assizes but not sentenced because the other man had been the aggressor). {1}{2}{3}{4}

There appears to have been a fair at Stow Green prior to 1268, as a document was issued in 1233 prohibited a fair held at "Stow next to Sempringham" and it is suggested that this fair may have had a long history, perhaps dating back to the time of the nunnery (PRN 60047). It has also been suggested that the market mentioned in the Domesday Book (see PRN 64871) was held at Stow Green. {5}

June 24th was also the feast day of St Aetheldreda, the founder of the 7th century nunnery. {6}

Part of the field where the fair was held is included within the scheduled area for the nunnery and chapel remains. {7}

Numerous small finds including coins, clay pipes, pottery, a trade token, and a medieval button, have been discovered in the area of the fair field. {8}{9}{10}

1 Leaflet: City and County Museum. 1979. Stow Green Fair. -
2 Correspondence: 1970-85. Letters about Stow Green. -
3 Bibliographic Reference: Trollope, Edward. 1872. Sleaford and the Wapentakes of Flaxwell and Aswardhurn in the County of Lincoln. pp.524-5
4 Bibliographic Reference: CRAGG, W.A.. 1913. A History of Threekingham with Stow in Lincolnshire. pp.5, 26, 76, 88, 96, 121-2
5 Website: Letters, Samantha (Dr). 2003. Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516: Counties and Wales. www.history.ac.uk/cmh/gaz/countyframe.html. -
6 Article in Serial: ROFFE, D.. 1986. LINCOLNSHIRE HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY. vol.21, pp.31-3
8 Index: SMR. Sites and Monuments Record Card Index. TF 03 NE: V, AB
9 Correspondence: 1965. Letter about a pewter button found at Stow Green. -
10 Graphic Material: Photograph of coin and trade token found at Stow Green. -

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Last updated: 03-December-2018 13:39:49

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