Chapter 4. The Fair at Great Mongeham - A charter is granted

Article Index
Chapter 4. The Fair at Great Mongeham
A charter is granted
The fair flourishes
Decline of the fair
Evidence for a fair
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A Charter is Granted

Mediaeval fairs emerged from religious festivals which brought people together to celebrate the feast day of a particular saint. (The word ‘fair’ is believed to come from the Latin feria meaning ‘feast’.) Such a gathering would provide a ready market for all kinds of merchants and pedlars. In an age when travel for ordinary people was restricted Kings granted charters for fairs which provided special conditions for trade and for the security of merchants en route. And so fairs became outlets for more specialised goods than could be found at weekly markets. Customers came from far and wide. Of course the charter would incur a fee and the king would exact tolls on goods the merchant brought to the fair and the lord of the manor would charge rent for the ground occupied by the merchants. By the thirteenth century fairs had become lucrative business, and enterprising lords of the manor would apply to the king for a charter.

alt One of the earliest was granted to Bertram de Crioll on 12th April 1251. It gave permission to hold a fair at ‘Monigeham’ (Great Mongeham) and ‘Shoueldon’ (Sholden) to be held over three days, from the eve of St. Luke’s day (18th October) until the day after. For this charter Bertram paid the king eleven marks (about £9 13s 6d).The payment is recorded in the Fines Rolls of Henry II, the relevant extract of which can be seen above in the sentence third line down. Translated it reads ‘Concerning a fine for a charter. - Bertram de Criel owes the king 11 marks for a charter to have a market and fair at Great Mongeham.’The entry is dated April 1251.

Although the Latin is abbreviated it is possible to read Bertmus de Crioll (the bar over Bertmusmeans it is abbreviated from Bertramus) debit (symbol for King Henry) xj marc (owes King Henry 11 marks). Towards the end can be made out the words feria(fair) and Munigham.



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