Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Mid and South Lincolnshire Section
Administrative area: Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, excluding that part of Lincolnshire north of a line between Gainsborough and Mablethorpe.
This Section covers an area of the country stretching from the Pennines across to the Lincolnshire coast.
The season opens with the medieval chartered mid-Lent fairs at Stamford and Grantham, both held in the streets, followed by Lincoln Great Fair during the last week in April. From Lincoln many of the showmen head eastwards for Boston May Fair. Believed to date from 1125, this large fair is held in the market place of this once-important seaport during the first week in May.
During July a fair is built up alongside the church in the former Derbyshire mining village of Shirland for the annual Wakes, whilst elsewhere in the county that month and the following, fairground amusements support the traditional well-dressing customs at places such as Buxton and Barlow.
The autumn brings with it the legendary Nottingham Goose Fair, one of the greatest fairs in the United Kingdom and an event whose popularity remains undiminished by the passage of time. Officially opened on the first Thursday in October, its exact age is unknown, as it had already been in existence for some years when it was confirmed by charter in 1294. Held in the city’s spacious market place until 1927, the fair, which attracts showmen from all parts of Britain, now takes place on the considerably larger Forest recreation ground, where the many amusements are spread over several acres.
On the Saturday after Goose Fair, Melbourne Statute Fair is held along the main street of this Derbyshire village. Ilkeston Charter Fair takes place the following week. This Derbyshire town was granted a fair by Henry III in 1252, which was held in August until 1888 when it was combined with the annual October hiring fair. The fair has grown considerably in modern times and radiates out through the town from the market place. The same weekend most years the neighbouring town of Ripley celebrates its annual street fair.
Belper Fair, held in the Coppice as it has been for countless generations, takes place on the last day of October. At the start of December the highly successful Lincoln Christmas Market, first held in 1983 and modelled on the Continental Christmas markets, includes a funfair built up alongside the castle walls.