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Sawbridgeworth Bi-Annual Amusement Fair

The Fair Green

(The Webmaster would be delighted to receive any photographs of the Sawbridgeworth Fair Green fairs taken at any time.)

Early in the fourteenth century, about 1307, Geoffrey de Say, Lord of the Manor obtained a licence to have a market on Fridays and an annual fair on the eve of the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (7th and 8th of September). The market dwindled but then was revived when Sir John Leventhorpe was granted a Wednesday market and two fairs, one on St George's Day (April 23rd) and the other on the feast of St. Dionysius October (23rd). The market eventually ended in a Horse Market probably ending in the mid 19th century.

The Fairs certainly survived and to the best of the webmaster's memory became a two day fair in April (23rd and 24th) and a four day fair in October (20th? through to the 23rd?). Both dates were extended by a day if a Sunday fell between the dates!

Before the Second World War and immediately afterwards, probably into the early 1960's, these fairs were very popular and it was always surprising how much 'entertainment' could be fitted into the relatively small space of the Fair Green, including the approach road from The Square. After the war Thurston's Fair seemed to be the predominant 'showman family' supplying the main attractions. There were Dodgems, Steam Roundabout, Chair-planes and all of the other usual side shows, Hoopla, Roll-a-penny, Candyfloss etc. The Road on the opposite side to the King William IV would be all showman's caravans together with Ducklings Lane which they completely took over. The spectacle on the day of arrival of the fair was the 'line-up' that took place in Knight Street (A great distraction to the children in the front facing classrooms of the Fawbert & Barnard School). The Fair was not allowed onto the Fair Green until Mid Day on the prior day of the first date and also were to be completely cleared by Mid Day after the last date. These restrictions always appeared to be adhered to.