Bartholomew Fair returns to its roots

This week Bartholomew Fair returned to Cloth Fair and Smithfield, where it started in 1133. I’ve put together some pages about the programme and businesses that committed to being open, with maps. I’ve also pulled together some articles and videos about the area.

On a stroll down Cloth Fair I was greeted by some engaging performers.

I’ve also done a little video to help promote Yvonne Courtney’s excellent pop up shop at 38 Bartholomew Fair EC1A 7HP, just around the corner from Cloth Fair. It is open until 6pm on Saturday 16 September.

Tonight I’m going to hear about Cries of London from The Gentle Author. There’s a taster here on Spitalfields Life with illustrated interviews by Henry Mayhew telling the story of London’s poor 150 years ago. The social media of its day, and more engaging.

The Fairs have started!

On the evening of 30 August St Bartholomew the Great hosted two events – a traditional ribbon-cutting by the Lord Mayor, and The Great Disputation.

Cloth Fair press release

“CLOTH FAIR”: Provocation, Inspiration and Reinvention
A cluster of happenings coinciding with Bartholomew Fair 2023 30 August – 16 September 2023 (dates, various)

Yvonne Courtney provides an introduction to the Cloth Fair programme

Established in Smithfield in 1133 – Bartholomew Fair was a materials trading event/ pleasure fair – hence the origin of the location’s street name: Cloth Fair.

Bartholomew Fair continued until 1855 when it was banned by the City of London Corporation due to disorder and debauchery. Fast forward to 2023 and the City is restoring Bartholomew Fair over three weekends of spectacles and events. Programme here.

Cloth Fair itself runs alongside the St Bartholomew the Great church, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital – both celebrating their 900th anniversary in 2023.

Besides its textiles heritage, the area also has a strong literary tradition – with this in mind, to complement Bartholomew Fair – Cloth Fair’s community are celebrating their locality’s rich heritage with a series of cloth-related and written and spoken word happenings

Read press release below, and programme here

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