"English Fairs in July

Canterbury and Chappel-Frith the 7 day.

English Fairs in December

Canterbury and Salisbury the 29 day.

At Whitsun Tuesday, at Canterbury."

The merchant's companion 1692


To confirm the origin of fairs from the dedication of churches, it is observable that on this account fairs were generally kept in church-yards, and even in churches, till the indecency and scandal were so great as to require reformation; accordingly, in the year 1230, in the 14th of Henry III, among the inquiries to be made at a visitation by all archdeacons within the diocese of Lincoln, the 25th and 26th were to discover this abuse. Soon after this, King Henry III. by express mandate forbad the keeping of Northampton fair in the church or church-yard of All-saints in that town. It was likewise from this relation of fairs to the days of dedication, that a custom of old time crept in of keeping some fairs upon the very Sundays, because the dedication feasts fell on those days, till this abuse, like the other, was thought fit to be restrained; as, for instance, the fairs and markets kept on Sundays at Wallingford Bercamstead and Brackley, were altered to week days, by special writs from the king, in the 2nd year of King Henry III.


The King has been pleased to grant unto the mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the city of Canterbury, and their successors, one market to be held within the said city, toll-free, on Wednesday in every week of the year for ever, for the buying and selling of hops, by wholesale or retail, in bags, pockets, or otherwise. AR 1766


"He obtained a grant from King Richard II to hold four fairs at Canterbury yearly, viz. on Holy Innocents' Day (December 28), Whitsun-eve, on the eve of the Translation of St. Thomas of Canterbury (July 6th), and on Michaelmas-eve (September 28th), each to continue nine days."*

Collectanea Archaeologica *Dart's History of Canterbury. Fol. London, 1726, p. 156; and Somner's Antiquities of Canterbury. 4to. 1640

This the translastion of Becket's body was on the 7th of July, and his passion on the 29th of September; which days being soon celebrated at Canterbury for festivals and days of dedication of altars and chapels to that martyr, it occasioned two fairs in that city annually on those days. 1797


"The two cities of Canterbury and Rochester are well supplied by markets, under regulations of the respective corporations.

The market-house at Canterbury has lately been rebuilt in an elegant style: to defry the expense of it an additional tax was laid upon butter; which so offended the farmers in the neighbourhood, that they entered into an agreement to bring no more to market, but to expose it for sale at a place without the liberties of hte city; and instead of spending the money at the city shops adjoining the market, it was carried away to purchase goods at other places. The citizens, finding that their interest lay in a free sale for provisions of every kind within the city, took off the additional toll."

General View of the Agriculture of the County of Kent 1805


There are several fairs, held yearly for toys and pedlary, in the different parishes of Canterbury, mostly on the days of the Saints, to whom the respective churches are dedicated; besides which, there is a principal fair held yearly on the 11th October, in the Cattle-market, usually called Jack and Joan's fair, from its being a statute fair for the hiring of servants of both sexes; which continues until three market days of the city have passed. Canterbury Guide, Henry Ward, 1843


"The principal fair, anciently called Jack and Joan fair, from its being a hiring for servants, is held on the 10th of October, and continues for two market days, during which the city presents a very busy and animated scene. Another fair is held at Wincheap, on Whit-Tuesday. There are other chartered fairs in the different parishes, but they are nearly obsolete."



"Several fairs used to be held in Canterbury, but all are now extinct, except the "Canterbury Fair," held in October, which still continues."

1903 & 1913 D

© T. Machado 2007