Saint Winnold's Fair -Come and celebrate the history of Downham Market

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Saint Winnold was a 6th Century Cornish Saint. He was the son of a prince  and a holy woman called Gwen.  The family fled to Brittany to avoid Saxons.  Saint Winnold grew up in Brittany and founded an Abbey which was the basis for all monks until Saint Benedict.

The 3rd of March is his feast day which was the time of the great horse sale when up to 10,000 horses would be traded.

The Saint Winnold's Fair was the first fair ever to be held in Downham Market.  Unofficial events of course were held but these were without the permission of King John.

Saint Winnold's Fair was the principle fair to be held during the middle ages.  In the earlier days half the town abandoned itself to three days and nights of continuous revelling.  Stalls of one kind or another lined both sides of the High Street.  There were side shows and amusements of every description alongside a horse and sheep fair.  Michael Henchard sold his wife for five guineas!

Nothing remotely comparable to this has occurred in the present century. It couldn't happen today!

Other fairs for the sale of horses and cattle  used to be held on the first Friday in May and the second Friday in November but these were rated of secondary importance.

Downham Market Town Council will be celebrating on Friday 25 March 2022 with a procession leaving the Town Council Offices at 09:15am we would love for you to take part in celebrating this very historic event.

Acknowledge to Downham Market & District Amenity Society who were the main contributors to A History Of Downham Market, which was originally published in 1999, which Downham Market Town Council hold copyright.

Saint Winnold's Fair -Come and celebrate the history of Downham Market