On Saturday October 18th we celebrated Ilkeston's 762 Charter Fair with our very own Charter Fair Event. The day was a great success and we had over 1500 visitors to the Museum. The Gavioli Organ created a great atmosphere in the car park with fairground music and the steam engine was as popular as ever with crowds assembled along High Street to see it leave the Museum at the end of the day. The Ilkeston Fair Association was also in attendance with fantastic displays and objects to tell the history of Ilkeston Fair.
A brief history of Ilkeston Charter Fair
Henry III granted Hugh de Muskham a Royal Charter on April 10th 1252. This meant that the people of Ilkeston were allowed to hold a market every week on a Thursday and an annual fair in August on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every year at the opening ceremony this Charter is read out in front of Ilkeston Town Hall to the amassed crowds. Below is the Charter in full:
"For Hugh Son of Ralph. The King to his Archbishops etc. Greeting. Know ye that we have granted and by this our Charter confirmed to our beloved and faithful Hugh son of Ralph, that he and his heirs for ever shall have free warren in all their demesne lands of Ilkesdon in the country of Derby and Gresley and Muscampis in the Country of Nottingham. So nevertheless that such lands be not within the metes of our forest, so that no one shall enter those lands to hunt in them or to take anything which belongs to warren without licence and Will of the said Hugh and his heirs upon for forfeiture to us of ten pounds. Also we have granted by this our Charter confirmed to the same Hugh that he and his heirs for ever shall have one Market every week on Thursday at his aforesaid Manor of Ilkesdon and that they will have there one fair every year to continue on the vigil and on one day of the assumption of the Blessed Mary Unless such Market and such Fair be to the Nuisance of the neighbouring Markets and neighbouring Fairs. Wherefore we will [wish] that the aforesaid Hugh and his heirs for ever shall have free warren as is aforesaid and that they shall have one Market every week and one Fair every year at his aforesaid Manor or Ilkesdon as is aforesaid with all the liberties and free customs to such Market and Fair belonging unless [such as Market and Fair to be a nuisance] These being Witnesses: Guy de Lezingny and William de Valencia, our brothers, Richard de Grey, John de Grey, J. Mansell Reeve of Beverley, Ralph the son of Nicholas, Bertram de Crioll, Master William de Kilkenni Archdeacon of Coventry, Rober Waler, Elyas de Rabayn, Ralph de Bakepuz, William Gernun, Roger de Lokinton, John de Geres and others. Dated by our hand at Windsor, the 10th day of April."
The fair has always been situated in and around the market place of Ilkeston. Initially it was an event for farmers and tradesmen to sell their produce but over the years entertainment was added making it a much more exciting occasion for visitors. Later on a Statutes or Hiring Fair was held every year in October. In the late 19th century the August and October Fairs were combined into one
event to be held in October annually.
The Victorians loved fairs and the 19th century saw many new innovations in the types of rides and entertainment available at fairs across the country. Ilkeston was no exception and the event grew in size and scope. Today Ilkeston Fair attracts thousands of people from across the area that come to experience the sights and sounds of what is one of the oldest annual fairs in the country.
Did you come to our Charter Fair Event on Saturday? Please feel free to share any photos or videos you took at the event on our Facebook page. We'd love to see them!