Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims.
18th century fair.
These laws regulated the siting and frequency goods in co-existence with the shops, and are still
of markets, and quantities being sold. From the very active today.
beginning of the 13th century a proliferation of new
markets and fairs sprang up, taking the number in Fairs, which were almost unknown at the time
England from a little less than 400 markets and 200 of Domesday, actually came to overtake markets in
fairs in 1200, to around 2000 of each by 1348. number although they were affected by the practice
of all year round trading in the emerging towns and
Following the Black Death, which killed off half became much more specialised as cattle fairs, horse
the population, markets and fairs initially declined fairs, mops or hiring fairs, etc.
but by the early 16th century there were roughly
2400 markets and about 2800 fairs established in The great era of the fair was over by the 16th
England. By this time, many markets had evolved century, but they endured as a major trading and
(from around 1300), into shops, market rows entertainment event until the railway took over mov-
and eventually market towns, which emerged ing livestock from the drovers in the late 19th century.
as important centres for local administration or Even as late as 1927, the Ministry of Agriculture and
for specialist trades or industries. Even so, the Fisheries reported that there were still about 1,500
markets still carried on albeit on a smaller scale fairs being regularly held in England and Wales - kept
selling farm produce, crafts and other specialist alive as fun-fairs, no doubt.
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