Did you know Cambridge hosted Europe's largest annual fair? For almost 500 years?!!
12 September 2023
by Hugh Wood
Stourbridge Fair transformed the whole area every year from 1211 until the 18th century, with traders coming from all over Europe for a month long Festival
The first Stourbridge Fair took place in 1211. As it become the largest fair in Europe in the middle ages, the prosperity of the site seemed assured. The organisation of the fair also expanded –at its height it became a small town. The layout became fixed enough for street names to be used. Some – Garlic Row, Oyster Row, and Mercer's Row – are still with us.
When the leper colony closed in the late 13th century, the fair was handed over to the town and, two centuries later – having initially been a two-day affair - it had grown to become a five-week event.
Its success peaked in 1589, when the fair lasted from August 24 to September 29. Then: shops. As retail shifted to the High Street during the 1600s, the fair declined. By the 19th century it was mainly an entertainment vehicle. Midsummer Fair was more central, and Stourbridge Fair fell out of favour, though it continued until 1933, after which there followed a gap of 70 years before its revival in 2004.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.