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  Feasts and Fairs


Feasts and fairs were traditionally held to celebrate the patronal festival of the parish church, a saint’s day, the sale of livestock or in the case of the annual Michaelmas hiring fairs – people!  In the middle ages, the annual fair usually incorporated a market selling exotic goods, such as silks, furs, spices and scents, brought to England by wealthy foreign merchants; most people, however, could only marvel at that these luxuries. 

Holy days at this time also focused as much on entertainment as on the glory of God; they were a time of feasting and fun with acrobats, jugglers and mummers accompanied by colourful events, such as cock fighting, bull and bear baiting, wrestling, and - drunken revelry. 

By the early eighteenth century the trading aspect of fairs had declined and most focused on feasting and fun; at the same time the first, very basic, fairground rides made an appearance; however from the mid-19th century, the use of steam power revolutionised the fairground and a spectacular variety of new rides emerged. 

Like May Day celebrations, the worst excesses of the festivities were curbed in Victorian times and fairs became more respectable, family events, bringing colour and excitement into the drabness and routine of everyday life; work was forgotten and everyone was happy.  

Tickhill Fair

Every community had its fair whether large or small, and Tickhill was no exception: in the 17th century, Roger Dodsworth (1585–1654), the English antiquary was told ‘ther [sic] is … …a fair on St Lawrence day’ – August 10; in 1833 the date was changed to the second weekend (Friday and Saturday) in October to combine with harvest suppers, which were held to celebrate the culmination of the agricultural year.  

In the19th century it was an important autumn cattle and hiring fair; however by the beginning of the 20th century, it had become a pleasure fair with steam roundabouts and sideshows, usually supplied by Tuby’s, the well-known ‘showground’ family from nearby Doncaster. In 1904, the Doncaster Gazette reported: ‘This year two sets of roundabouts with their gorgeous accessories and electrically lighted, together with an unusual number of stalls, shows and swings, occupied the ground near the old Market Cross’. In the 1930s, properties on the south side of Mangham Lane were demolished and the Fair transferred to the site for several years until the present houses were built.

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