This is an extract from the programme written by Harry Mottram for the Axbridge Pageant due we hope in 2021. It was originally due to be performed this August but has been put back 12 months due to Covid-19 with even a question mark over that date due to the ongoing problems of social distancing. The pageant is directed by John Bailey.
If there’s one scene that more than any visually captures the pageant – it’s this one.
Set before you is a picture from another century. The Lady Day Fair is the first of four quarter fairs that were held to mark the four seasons. This one marked the New Year (for historic reasons held at the end of March) and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The fair was a chance for farmers to hire new labourers, housekeepers to find new servants and wandering sturdy beggars to seek new employment. Produce and livestock were sold, deals were sealed, and with all that cider and beer being consumed, the birth rate shot up a few months later.
Axbridge would have been a very lively place during these fairs with people arriving in town to enjoy the festivities, meet up with old friends and strike a bargain at the same time.
Hiring fairs, quarter fairs and markets were a big deal for the residents of the town – from the days of Good King John up to the 19th century when they declined as the world modernised and embraced more innovative ways of doing business.
A little of that excitement can be captured on the town’s contemporary Farmer’s Markets held on the first Saturday of the month and the September Blackberry Fair – especially on the Saturday afternoon when the carnival procession enters the Square.
There is news and information at http://axbridgepageant.com/index.html and there is also more at http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/axbridge-pageant-2020/
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