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Great Torrington May Fair

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Great Torrington May Fair

Great Torrington’s children lead a May Day procession

Non-Fiction 1953 10 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive

Overview

Great Torrington’s May Fair is an annual folk festival dating back to 1554. On the first Thursday in May, the children dance around the maypole set up in Market Square at the heart of the town. A May Queen is elected and a procession with attendants ensues. A banner with Us Be Plaised To Zee ‘Ee welcomes one and all. The town is traditionally decked in bunting and decorated with sprays of yellow gorse flowers. 

Fairs cease during the Second World War but come back with more enthusiasm than ever in the post-war rationing period and into the 1950s. 1954 marks the end of rationing in Britain. Great Torrington or Torrington is a small market town known for its 1646 Battle that saw the defeat of the Royalists by Sir Thomas Fairfax's Parliamentarians putting an end to Royalist ambition in the West Country. It is also famous for glove-making.