Film ID: YFA 3689 Video of YFA_3689 Hovingham 18th Century Fair 1983-1984 HOVINGHAM 18TH CENTURY FAIR 1983-1984 Visitor TabsDescription A popular fundraising event, this film documents the 18th century fair in Hovingham, a small North Yorkshire village. The film includes scenes of those working at the fair, all dressed in 18th century costume, musical performances, and the crowds of people in attendance. Title - We present... a few scenes of Hovingham 18th Century Fair 1983 & 1984 This title is accompanied by a poster advertising the fair on Monday, August 27th (1984) Title - 1983 On the village green, a group of children and adults, dressed in 18th century costume, play music near some of the stalls set up for the fair. The people manning those stalls are also dressed in costume. Large numbers of people make their way from stall to stall where there are demonstrations of old methods of embroidery and spinning. Boys and girls perform a dance around a Maypole, and nearby the Malton White Star Band perform. Title - Brief Encounter 'You're not booking me, are you' 'I'm afraid I am, Madame - the car park's down there!!...' A woman in a car gets a warning from a police officer. Title - 1984 Some women are inside the Hovingham Methodist Church which has been decorated with flowers. There is also a woman is playing the organ. Outside, three girls in costume play reed instruments and are accompanied by a boy on a tambourine. Nearby a man makes a wood carving, and a brass band performs. Again there is an embroidery stall as well as stalls selling vegetables and ice creams. In the grounds of Hovingham Hall, a large group of children sit on the grass to watch a Punch and Judy show. There is a cricket match being played, and some children take a ride on a model railway. A man with a horse and cart gives rides through the village, and there is another dance around a Maypole. The day's festivities have come to an end, and the fairground is deserted with only those people left to dismantle the stalls. Some of the participants pose for the camera. An old poster is shown for a 50 Pounds Reward, and the film comes to an end focusing on an empty village green. Context This film is one of a number of films made by a Hovingham villager, Eileen Jeffels. Two of these have been donated to the YFA, this one and another on Hovingham showing Christmas carol singing from 1978-80. Eileen lived in the farm opposite Sir Marcus Worsley, later moving to York. Having spent several years making films in super 8mm as a hobby, Eileen found less interest when video took over in the 1980s. The YFA has a sizeable collection of films on Hovingham, mainly dating from the 1930s, made by Sir Marcus’ father, Sir William Worsley. For more on Sir William Worsley and his film collection, and on the history of Hovingham, see the Context for Sir William’s film Personalities In Hovingham Village made in the 1930s. The 18th century fairs in Hovingham only started up at the beginning of the 1980s, and sadly only lasted until the end of that decade. Fairs of various kinds are common in villages as fund raising events, but putting on an eighteenth century fair gives it more interest, and they certainly attracted many visitors, but they also proved to be very hard work. They were initiated by Lady Worsley, and others volunteered to help in the organisation, raising funds that were divided between the ancient Church of All Saints in Hovingham, Hovingham Village Hall and the New Primitive Methodist Chapel just down the road in Scackleton. Eileen Jeffels was active in the Methodist Chapel at Hovingham and filmed the last of their fund raising Circuit Sales in 1976. Eileen would show the films locally, and this too would raise money for good causes, such as for World Water Day. The children dancing in the film are from the local school, and the accordion player was a student who was researching on the local woods at the time. Although Hovingham has a long history, it would be fair to say that the eighteenth century saw an expansion of the village. In 1715 Thomas (the sixth Thomas) son of William Worsley, nephew of the previous successor to the Worsley estate, also named Thomas. He was surveyor-general of the Board of Works to George III until his death in 1778, and was succeeded by his second son Edward. During this time Thomas built Hovingham Hall, a large eighteenth century country house which dominates the village, around 1760. The village was also changed by the discovery of a Roman bath there in 1745, at a time when spas were all the fashion. Fairs were common in the eighteenth century, and were an important part of social life in cities, towns and villages. Although fairs were quite regimented, buying and selling outside of the prescribed times could lead to heavy penalties, they were often jolly events. So, as well as being a place to sell goods, and labour, they were also places of gaiety – attracting all types of entertainers – providing an opportunity for those lower down the social scale to let their hair down. Indeed, many fairs were as much, if not more, for pleasure as they were for business (see Malcolmson). Unsurprisingly they attracted criminals and prostitutes, and were known for their lewdness, with peep shows and not a small amount of sexual abandon: they also occasioned riots which were blamed on lewd women, hence in the early eighteenth century Queen Anne attempted to rid fairs of all the whores. Another source of rowdiness would be the inns, with publicans, again not surprisingly, frequently promoting fairs, and putting on entertainments such as cock-fighting – thankfully not reproduced in Hovingham! On an excellent website providing a virtual tour of some eighteenth century fairs (see References), William Wordsworth is quoted describing the Bartholomew Fair in London as a, "Parliament of Monsters" filled with "Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs...the Horse of knowledge...the Invisible Girl...and puppet shows, as well as musicians playing the hurdy-gurdy, the fiddle, the kettledrum, and the trumpet.” (The website also provides a very useful annotated bibliography). Daniel Defoe writes about Charlton in Kent that it, “is . . . infamous for the yearly collected rabble of mad-people, at Horn Fair. . . The mob at that time indeed take all kinds of liberties, and the women are especially impudent for the day; as if it was a day for giving themselves a loose to all manner of indecency and immodesty, without any reproach.” (p. ). It is not surprising that although originally fairs were attended by all classes, those in the higher echelons began to stop coming as they garnered a bad reputation, and that by the end of the eighteenth century many of the popular fairs were shut down piecemeal as public, open air entertainments – although it wasn’t until 1871 that an Act was introduced explicitly allowing for the banning of ‘unnecessary’ fairs. Some idea of the "the Humours of a Fair" can be seen in William Hogarth's painting of Southwark Fair. Doubtless small village fairs might not have been as wild as those held in London at the time, but this recreation of an eighteenth century village fair gives a flavour of the variety of goods on sale and the occupations that would be there, along with the music and dancing – although the brass band is an anachronism, being a Victorian development. The Punch and Judy show however is fitting, although at that time it may possibly have been a marionette rather than a puppet show. Punch and Judy was at the height of its popularity in the eighteenth century; its irreverence and anarchy mirroring the times. It was performed by strolling players in public spaces, only becoming a more specifically children’s entertainment, and being performed at seaside resorts, in Victorian times. Whilst the plot has changed over the years (see Crone) – and despite misgivings about its domestic violence! – It still lives on to the delight of many. Although Hovingham no longer hosts a medieval fair, medieval fayres and festivals do occasionally take place across Yorkshire. References Rosalind Crone, Mr And Mrs Punch In Nineteenth-Century England Daniel Defoe, A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, Yale University Press, 1991 Robert Malcolmson, Popular Recreations in English Society 1700-1850, Cambridge university Press, 1973. Julia Smith, Fairs, Feasts and Frolics: customs and traditions in Yorkshire, Smith settle, Otley, 1989. 'Parishes: Hovingham', A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1 (1914), at: British History Hovingham local information Hovingham Hall Virtual Tour of 18th Century Fairs!