Banbury Fair

We live near the historical town of Banbury.  If you live in or around Banbury it’s just a normal English Market Town, where everyday life just happens.

But for me it’s the town that the in-laws moved to in the 60’s when London became overcrowded and life promised a brighter future if you moved to the countryside.  It’s also the town that my husband and 2 of my 3 children were born.

However, you may have heard of Banbury through history and if so it maybe be due to the children’s nursery rhyme.

“Ride A Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross

To See a fine lady upon a white horse

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She shall have music wherever so goes”

It could be because of the Banbury Cross as mentioned in the Children’s nursery rhyme.

July 26 1600 the 1st Banbury Cross was pulled down by Puritans (English Protestants)and another was not erected  until 250 years later (1859) to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter

( The Princess Royal) to Prince Frederick of Prussia and the cross still stands today.

It may even be due to our famous Banbury Cakes, which have been in production for well over 300 years. The first recording was in the 16th century of a man called Edward Welchman making them in his shop on Parsons Street.

But none of these were reasons that we found ourselves heading to Banbury on a crisp Autumn evening dressed in our warmest coats, gloves, socks and boots, for we were heading to Banbury for the Michaelmas Fair.  So called the Michaelmas fair due to it starting on or around St. Michaelmas day (29th September) in the market square of St Giles in Oxford. Arriving the 2nd / 3rd week in October at Banbury. I first heard of the Banbury Fair through a folk song written and performed by ‘Chris Leslie’ of ‘Fairport Convention’ fame.  His tale of a date out with a certain young lady who later became his wife.  But the Banbury fair dates back to 1154 when Henry II granted Banbury a charter for an annual fair. By 1329 there were 2 fairs and by the 19 century the fair had become 3 which were now rolled into one.  Business Fair (sale of live stock), Statute Fair (hiring of servants) and the Pleasure Fair (a collection of side shows) however by the 1950’s the fair was Dwindling, but thankfully due to the re introduction of large rides such as the Big Wheel we still have the Banbury Fair today.

Attending the Banbury Fair on an Autumn evening in October has become a family tradition that we started over 18 years ago when our eldest was 1, and we have now managed to introduce all three of our children to the fair, so much so the eldest two now take themselves, alongside loved ones and groups of best friends and our youngest manages to twist her parents arm so she can bring a friend as the brothers no longer want to come with us.

(all images curtsy of Google Images)

Do you have family traditions?


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