Barnstaple holds an Annual Proclamation Ceremony on the Wednesday preceding 20 September in the Guildhall. A white glove is suspended from the top window symbolising the open hand of friendship and officially trading at the market begins. The Town Clerk reads a proclamation at the site of the South and West Gates. Barnstaple Fair may have the reputation of the oldest in the country with its origins believing to date from 930.
In the past trading and the fair would last a week with fairground rides and amusements organised by the Showmen’s Guild. From the turn of the 20th century, many famous show people graced the fair with rides and antics from freak shows to boxing booths. The trade developed from livestock to china with the horse fair present until the 1940s. This ceremony is presided over by the Mayor of Barnstaple, Frederick Chanter.