The Proclamation of the Fair
One of the oldest traditional civic ceremonies in Britain has taken place in our home town of Barnstaple this week. The Proclamation of the Fair has its origins dating back to the early 10th century when the town was recognised as the first official Borough.
The Town Clerk reads aloud the Royal Charter to stage a travelling fair in a ceremony held at the historic Guildhall in the town centre. The Mayor, local councillors, the Showman's Guild and prominent people from the community speak at the event as toasts are made to the fair and the prosperity of Barnstaple. Guests are treated to some sweet treats called 'Fairings' and a special spiced ale brewed by the town's Head Beadle using a recipe passed down through time at the point of succession.
The Clerk then leads a procession to the various ancient gates to the town where he also declares the 'King's Proclamation'. One of the locations is outside our Royal & Fortescue Hotel at the start of the High Street.
The civic event then moves on to our Barnstaple Hotel for the traditional lunch. When it began the Fair was an important trading event as the town was a thriving port - one of the busiest in Britain - being a gateway to the Atlantic Ocean.
Nowadays the celebration is to welcome the travelling fun fair but it's the most important date in the Showman's Guild calendar. The fair is the largest in the South West of England. The Proclamation procession is a lovely sight for visitors to Barnstaple. Next year's event takes place on Wednesday 19th September 2018.