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Barnstaple Fair

Fairground attractions at Barnstaple Fair

News 1976 1 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Barnstaple is the oldest town in North Devon dating back to 930 AD, known as a trade port on the River Taw. In the 14th Century, Barnstaple gains a licence to export wool and in 1852 the Market and Fair Act gave Barnstaple the right to hold a fair for the trade and sale of livestock ending with entertainment. The fair lasts three days, Wednesday for the selling of sheep and cattle, Thursday for the selling of horses and Friday for the fairground and amusement rides.

The opening ceremony held in the Guildhall joined by the Mayor and local dignitaries consists of speeches followed the suspension of a stuffed white glove out of an upper window, the glove is to symbolise the hand of friendship. Unlike most towns and cities in the UK during WWI the Barnstaple Fair did not end but continued on a smaller scale. The Barnsatple Autumn Fair is thought to date back to 930 AD and is therefore one of the oldest in Britain.