The Village Fair

In the 19th Century, on the evening of Feast Sunday, a fair would be set up on the Village Green. (Click here to see an aerial view). This would last for two or three days. This Fair continued well into the 20th Century, and was an attraction to villagers from miles around.

Hilda Roberts - click on the picture to find out more.

Hilda Roberts was born in the 19th century and lived in the village all her life. Writing in the 1960's she remembered: "What we called “the shows” arrived on that Sunday night and filled up the village green ready for the feast or fair, on the morrow. How excited we children were to see all the caravans and the strange faces of the “showfolks”, including the children who seemed so strange to us. The morning showed the erection of the swingboats and coconut shies and the show women making sticks of rock - the shining brass gleaming through open doors of the caravans always fascinated me and I longed to peep inside the dim recesses of what seemed to me to be a sort of enchanted dwelling place.

There was one family of showfolks named David Mead who in winter had a house at Stewkley. David had a van and a pony and he called his equipage “Jumbo’s Carriage” and gave penny rides as far as the Bell Corner and back. I once had a ride in it with some of my playmates and we thought it wonderful, he was a jolly old sporty sort of man quite superior to the ordinary showman, but there, we did know him as he came year after year."

Click here to hear Pat Roberts (Hilda's daugher-in-law) read some of these memories.

Reminiscing recently, villager Norman Brackley (click here to find out who he is) remembers the fair from before the war: " A big crowd of people, they would walk or come by bicycle - there were no cars in those days. Some would walk, from Crafton, Aston Abbotts and Rowsham. Some would walk up the fields. Some would be three parts drunk (as they left) and wouldn't go to the next morning - they'd fall asleep in the fields!" You can click here to hear to these memories.

"Steam Engine at the fair" by Philip Earwicker

"I can remember there being horse drawn caravans. We used to get the big beautiful steam engines, I've seen two standing on Wingrave green, and the big roundabout, we used to have the horses and the boats going round it and that was driven by a little stream engine." Click here to hear memories of the fair.

In 1924, the Bucks Herald reported in its July edition on the regular annual event " The Green was crowded on the first three days of the week with the usual roundabouts, chair o' planes, sideshows etc."

Norman and his sister Dorothy also remember: "Mrs Pettigrew used to make lovely old fashioned rock, creamy coloured with a brown treacle streak in it - it had a beautiful flavour. They used to roll it out on the table to get it to a good consistency and occasionaly she'd spit on her hands and get another grip and sling it up again - then have another spit on her hands - and everyone said that was the only thing that put any flavour in it!"

The fair resumed after the war but ended in the mid 1960s as the Smith family who ran it wished to move the fair it to the August bank holiday weekend and the Parish Council did not agree. The arrival of the 'Tombstones' in 1966 which effectively prevented vehicles from parking on the Green and the planting of the trees sealed the fair's fate.

As Norman comments: It was a great thing the fair coming to the Green, it was the only entertainment the village got, half the village in those days hadn't even got radios and there was no such thing as television. And there weren't many telephones in the village either.

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