High days and holidays

It’s the 10th August. In the past, that must have been a special day in Market Lavington. We really wish we had some information and anecdotes about it, but none have come to light so far.

Our scanty information comes from trawling through various directories, which give us some details about markets and fairs. Pigot’s Directory of 1830 states that ‘the market is a very large one for corn and cattle and is held on Wednesday. The annual fair is held on 10th August.’ So happy fair day to any regular readers who live locally, though we believe the fair must have ceased well before living memory.

The only other mention we have found for the 10th August fair is in Lewis’s Topographical Gazeteer of England for 1831, giving similar information. ‘The market is on Wednesday and a fair is held on 10th August.’

However, we do have a few other dates from different sources. Hunt’s Directory of May 1848 gives us a longer account about the market in its declining years. (The Victoria History of Wiltshire, volume X gives a final date for the market as being between 1850 and 1860, based on a newspaper cutting supplied by Mrs T Gye. That would be Peggy, our museum founder.) This Hunt’s excerpt about the market concludes with another special Market Lavington date. ‘Wednesday is market day, if so it can be called, the market merely consisting of a few farmers who meet at the Green Dragon in the evening with samples of wheat, oats, etc. The market has been established for four centuries and was formerly an extensive one. An annual feast is kept on August 22nd.’

C. Gilman’s Family Almanac of 1858 lists fairs in Wiltshire and gives East Lavington (aka Market Lavington)’s fair as the Monday after August 15th.

Finally, returning to the Victoria History of Wiltshire, some much earlier information is given about the fair and feast. (The source for this is a document at the Public Records Office – Ministers’ and receivers’ accounts/Henry VIII/3985.m/41.)

It states ‘A fair to be held on the eve, feast and morrow of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (15 Aug} was granted to Richard Rochelle at the same time as the weekly market (ie in 1254). Like the market, it passed with the Rochelle manor to the rectors of Edington and after the dissolution of that house in 1539 the profits of the market and fair were valued at 8 shillings.’

So, now you know as much as we do about this slightly moveable August feast and accompanying fair. We apologise that there are no pictures or stories in this blog entry. Our knowledge of local history is very dependant on what is passed down and saved for posterity, which is why we are so grateful to have a village museum and donations for it, which allow us to preserve aspects of the past for future generations.

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