Bampton Charter Fair
NEXT FAIR: Thursday 29th October 2015
Video of the 2012 Fair - available on YouTube (over 2000 views!) - here.
More Fair Entertainments videos - here
Bampton Fair existed even before King Henry
III granted it a Royal Charter in 1258 and it is always held on the last
Thursday of October. It is one of the oldest surviving Charter
Fairs in the country.
For centuries, the fair mainly sold sheep and
cattle and was the largest sheep fair in the South West of England. During
the 1880's to the 1980's it evolved to become the famous Bampton Pony Fair
trading in Exmoor ponies.
Today this traditional Devon fair continues to attract local producers of foods and livestock, crafts and traditional skills from Exmoor and its surrounding villages. The streets, church, pubs and venues of Bampton are filled to over flowing with around 100 stalls, entertainments including craft and music workshops, demonstrations and concerts, and funfair.
Probably the most significant addition to the fair in recent years was the return of the famous pony sales which had ended in 1985. Luttrell Farm hosted a collective sale of horses, ponies, fur & feathers, saddlery and tack alongside farm machinery, tools, furniture and collectibles. Sadly this will not be happening in 2014 because the market for pony sales has disappeared, and Lutrell Fram is no longer available for the auction. However, we will have Exmoor ponies for people to come and see.
In addition to the usual fun of the fair we have some amazing live music from steel bands and folk to flamenco. Folk singers and musicians congregate in all the Pubs with local musicians being supported with visitors from Brittany and Ireland and the music continues all weekend.
DVD: Commemorative DVD on the 750 year history of the fair containing archive photographs, film, songs, music and oral memories of the rich traditions and heritage of the fair itself have been compiled - details here.
In 2004 we joined forces with Pennymoor Sing Around, a local folk club, we were successful in obtaining a £25,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Bampton Fair is primarily about trade but with the added attraction of entertainment and so the money was used to regenerate the fair and improve its infrastructure, to encourage local producers of foods, crafts and traditional skills, to provide a host of entertainments in the streets, pubs and venues of Bampton including craft and music workshops, demonstrations and concerts, and the start of an archive collecting photographs, film, songs, music and oral memories of the rich traditions and heritage of the fair itself.
In March 2005, the ‘Bampton Fair & After the Fair' project reached the last three finalists for projects in the South West of England for a Heritage Award by the National Lottery. We came second - an achievement of which we can be proud because Bampton Charter Fair and 'After the Fair' are run entirely by volunteers and we were up against two County Councils who have many resources and paid-for staff. We are also pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance Bampton Charter Fair has within our community and the value of preserving local tradition and heritage for future generations.
Use the links on the left to find out more about our next fair ...
RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOK: "Bampton Fair and a Little Bit More" - CLICK HERE
BBC web-site on history of Bampton Fair.
Podcast of broadcast about Bampton Fair by 10 Radio - download here (mp3 15mins 13MB)