Bidford was chartered at the time of Henry III (1207 - 1272)
as a Market Town, giving it the privilege of holding a weekly market Friday being the
appointed day. Later, Queen Elizabeth (1533 - 1603) confirmed this Friday market day and
also granted two fairs annually, one in May and the other at Michaelmas. The May Fair was
later known as the Trinity and the one at Michaelmas the Mop
(currently the Bidford Carnival).
In the 19th century the Trinity Fair was Field on The Bank (opposite St.Laurences Church) and along the High Street. A flag would float from the staff on the church tower and bunting would decorate the street; stalls would be erected along the length of the High Street, with coconut alleys, whirligigs, shooting galleries, roundabouts, with a Punch and Judy show and other entertainments fitting in where they could find space. Occasionally, a circus would be located nearby sometimes on the meadow at the back of The White Lion. Good boating was always available on the river and this occasion was a good excuse for holding a tub race; the more duckings and capsizes there were, the more the crowds would en joy it. On the morning of the fair a procession was held by the members of the two friendly societies, the United Patriots and the Druids, accompanied by a band. The vicar would preach at a mid-day service and after this the fair would commence. The number of visitors would increase as the afternoon progressed, the atmosphere getting livelier and noisier. The two friendly societies would hold large dinners after their parading, United Patriots usually meeting at The Masons Arms (now the 'Anglo Saxon), and the Druids at The Pleasure Boat.
In 1893 a break was made with the traditional way of holding the fair on The Bank and the High Street. The County Council deemed that the accoutrements of the fair all had to be located across the water on the meadow behind the church. This action was taken because of complaints about the nuisance the sidestalls and roundabouts caused and the revelries and noise which cont inued throughout the day. This aroused strong feelings in Bidford that year; some Bidfordians were displeased at the curtailment of their ancient privileges and others were delighted at the more peaceful passing of the day. One person who suffered that year was Mr. Joseph Phipps, a stallkeeper. He was charged with causing an obstruction on the public highway he insisted on remaining close to the White Lion: when asked to move on by a policeman he said that he had stood there for this occasion nearly 45 years and did not see why he should have to change new!
Spring 1986 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1986