The Mop Fair. (First Tuesday in October)
This annual fair takes place on the first Tuesday in October, and is the final event in the Court Leet’s year. Originally a hiring fair, it continues today as an annual fun-fair by virtue of its ancient Royal Charter. Organised in conjunction with the Showman’s Guild
The Ceremonies: Court Officers meet at the Town Hall at 3.30pm, and are joined by the Mop Proprietor in preparation for “Walking the Fair.” The procession moves off through the fair to the venue chosen for the opening ceremony, usually one of the larger rides situated outside the Royal Oak Inn.
At 4.00pm the opening ceremony commences with the Town Crier/Beadle calling the gathering to order and introducing the High Bailiff. The High Bailiff then reads out the ancient Mop Proclamation, and formally declares the fair open.
This concluded, the Mop Proprietor then leads the High Bailiff and Court Officers through the fair, inviting them to partake of certain rides and amusements. Local school children join in at this stage, in order to enjoy free rides with the Officers.
In the evening, a second walk is made through the fair by the High Bailiff and Officers, who, arriving at the appointed location, again usually by the church gate, then conduct the ceremonies of Bread Weighing (with Scales) to be done; Fish and Flesh Tasting (with Scales if appropriate); and Ale Tasting. These are followed by the public auction of the victuals tested, together with the first slice of the traditional roasted pig. The public are urged to bid generously at this auction, the proceeds from which go to the High Bailiff’s Fund. The proceedings are concluded by the free dispensing of ale to the gathering.