Mudcat Café message #1639143 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #87656   Message #1639143
Posted By: Susanne (skw)
01-Jan-06 - 08:22 PM
Thread Name: happy? - Dec 31 (Sylvester / Hogmanay)
Subject: RE: happy? � Dec 31 (Sylvester / Hogmanay)
More than you ever wished to know about Glesca Fair:

[1996:] Glasgow owes the origin of its celebrated annual fair to a 12th century Cistercian monk Bishop Jocelin. It was he who influenced King William the Lion to grant the town a charter round about 1190 to hold a yearly fair for eight full days from the octaves of the apostles Peter and Paul - 7th July. This was in keeping with the medieval custom of fairs being appointed in connection with saints' days or religious festivals. Bishop Jocelin was one of the most indefatigable and capable men who ever occupied the Episcopal throne of Glasgow.

In 1744 the Town Council decided that instead of the fair commencing on a fixed day in the calendar it should begin on the first Monday of July and finish the following Saturday, the reason being "the Sabbath intervening in the eight days stopped and interrupted the course of the fair". Another change came in 1752 due to the transition of the calendar from old style to new, making "Fair Monday" a week later.

Little information is available regarding the great event until the latter half of the 16th century. From the earliest July Town Council minute existing, that of 1574, it appears to have been the practice to hold a ritualistic open-court of the Burgh on "Fair-even", 6th July. This took place on a piece of rocky ground called Craignacht, somewhere in the region of today's North Albion Street, the fair itself being held in the garden of the adjoining Greyfriars Monastery.

All business concluded, the important ceremony of proclaiming "the peace of the fair", a main condition of the charter, was carried out in double form - at Glasgow Green by an Officer of the Barony and at the Market Cross (then at the junction of High St / Rottenrow / Drygate) by a Burgh Officer.

Townsfolk and officers were commanded to "keep the peace of the fair" and stall keepers ordered to have a halbert and steel bonnet available to quell any disturbance should someone disregard the edict. During the fair nobody could be arrested for debt and runaway serfs could not be lawfully seized by their masters until it was over. On fair morn, a bell ringer, who always wore a red coat, went to the Cross, rang his bell and cried - "Glesca Fair is noo open" "Glesca Fair is noo open".

The original concept of the fair was to generate trade and commerce by bringing the outside world to Glasgow, not for there to be a mass exodus from the city for its duration as began to happen in the 1860s.

Way back when the fair really was a fair, people came from all over the West of Scotland to trade, laugh, drink and be merry. However, in 800 years it evolved from a cheery rural festival into a public nuisance with coarse loud entertainments and then, as we know it today, the "Shows" on Glasgow Green. (Carol Foreman, Did You Know?, Glasgow City Libraries and Archives, Glasgow, p 21 f.)

Still going, it seems.