Are You Going to Whittingham Fair?

Yet another excerpt from the fascinating ‘Highways & Byways in Northumbria’ which probably sounds familiar:

Whittingham Fair was a great event along ago, when the countryside was more populated and fairs were the times of replenishing the household and all sorts of merchandise was on sale. To read of the games and merry-making at Whittiingham Fair makes us believe that the happy, light-hearted age has gone forever. The day cinemas will never again permit the bailiff, leading a long cavalcade of he manor’s tenancy to the music of fiddlers to enter the fair with the ancient cry, “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” After a long recital of the laws that governed the fair, the most necessary  in junction in “Northumberlonde hasty and hot” followed: “If any person or persons shall use any violence, by drawing any weapon or shedding any blood shall forfeit to the Lord of the Manor 100 shillings.”

The ballad of Whittignham fair is a localised version of an older one:

Are you going to Whittingham Fair,

Parsley, sage rosemary and thyme,

Remember meet one who lives there

For once she was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt

Parsley, sage rosemary and thyme,

Without any seam or needlework

For once she was a true love of mine.

Sound familiar?

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