All the fun of the fair

Earlier this month, the Alresford annual fair came rolling in, sparking my curiosity about the fascinating history of fairs in Hampshire. I couldn't help but delve into our rich collection of historic photographs.

Did you know that fairs in the United Kingdom boast a legacy dating back to the Medieval era? Between 1199 and 1350, more than fifteen hundred royal charters were granted, establishing these vibrant events.

The 14th century saw the introduction of hiring fairs or ‘mop fairs’, evolving into a trend that lasted until the late 19th century. The Victorian era ushered in a wave of change. Think steam-powered roundabouts, theatre booths, and waxworks – talk about a spectacle!

Fast forward to the 20th century, and fairs continued their evolution, embracing modern marvels like the waltzer and dodgems.

Black and white photograph showing crowds enjoying the fun fair, Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth, 1905. HMCMSP1972.280.71
Black and white photograph, showing locals enjoying a day at Clanfield Fair, Clanfield, Hampshire, 1895-1905. P1967.39
A negative photograph of a crowd of people with fairground rides in the background, Alresford. Original taken c.1900.
Black and white photograph showing locals enjoying a day at the fair, Hambledon, Hampshire, 1910-1920. HMCMSP1982.58.18
Black and white photograph, showing a steam organ at steam fair, White Waltham, Hampshire. HMCMSP2011.1.382

See more of our photographic collection on our Facebook pages or search through our online collection through the following links:

Transport in Old Photographs

Photographs | Hampshire Cultural Trust Online Collections
Photographs Our photographic collection contains topographical views of the county, its industries and inhabitants dating from the 1850’s to the present day, including representations of local photographers such as Terry Hunt of Basingstoke and William Savage of Winchester.

This article was written by:
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Emma Banks

Collections Programme Manager
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