Scarborough Fair (fair)

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During the late Middle Ages the seaside town of Scarborough, in Yorkshire, was an important venue for tradesmen from all over England. It was host to a huge 45-day trading event, starting on August 15th which was exceptionally long for a fair in those times. Merchants came to it from all areas of England, Norway, Denmark, the Baltic states and the Byzantine Empire. Scarborough Fair originated from a charter granted by King Henry III of England on 22 January 1253. The charter, which gave Scarborough many privileges, stated "The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fair in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary until the Feast of St Michael next following". (On the modern Roman Catholic calendar, the equivalent dates are August 15 to September 29.) Naturally, such a large occasion attracted a lot more than just tradesmen; they needed to be entertained and fed, therefore large crowds of buyers, sellers and pleasure-seekers attended the fair. Prices were determined by supply and demand, with goods often being exchanged through the barter system. Records show that from 1383 due to another fair in neighbouring Seamer Scarborough's prosperity slumped.[1]

In the early 17th century, competition from other towns' markets and fairs and increasing taxation saw further collapse of the Fair until it eventually became financially untenable. The market was revived again in the 18th century, but due to intense competition Scarborough Fair finally ended in 1788.

The traditional "Scarborough Fair" no longer exists, but a number of low-key celebrations take place every September to mark the original event. Scarborough Fair in July 2006, which has colloquially become known in the community as "Scabz Faz", witnessed medieval jousting competitions hosted by English Heritage in addition to the usual attractions.

The fair features in the traditional English ballad "Scarborough Fair".


  1. ^ "Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre | Scarborough fair". Retrieved 2017-09-26.

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