London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

Plays were enacted as at Bartholomew Fair, and Rich is said to have met withBartholomew Fair Walker, the original Macheath, at this fair, playing in a booth: upon being struck with his talents, he engaged him for the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre. This fair used to continue for upwards of a week; but in September 1743 it was limited to three days, on which the proprietors of booths, who usually made a collection for the prisoners in the Marshal sea, declared they could no longer afford it. This so incensed the prisoners, that they pulled up the pavement, and threw stones over the wall on the bowling-green adjoining the prison, by which a child was killed and several persons wounded. The high constables and magistrates now determined on putting down the fair; but the proprietors of booths and stalls removed to the Mint, a place that had long claimed peculiar privileges on account of the palace which formerly stood there, built by Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Here the fair was held for some time, until, in the year [1763], it was entirely suppressed.

May Fair, which commenced on the first of May, and continued for sixteen days, was held near Piccadilly and Park Lane, on the site now occupied by May Fair Chapel and the adjacent mansions. The place was formerly called Brook fields. More important business appears to have been transacted at this fair than mere drolls, since, in an advertisement of the year [1700], it is stated, that the first three days of the fair were “for live cattle and leather;” but, from its being added, “with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair,” it is probable that the pretended sale of leather was only to give a show of business in order to prevent its being suppressed.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy