Tewkesbury Mop Fair has its roots in the Medieval hiring fairs that took place throughout England on or around Michaelmas Day. These days it is less about finding servants for the year and more about having a good time, with rides taking over the majority of the town for a two day festival.
|First Held||12th Century|
|Season||9 & 10 October (unless these fall on a Sunday)|
|Nearby||West Midland Safari Park (27 miles)|
Drayton Manor (46 miles)
Grand Pier Weston-super-Mare (57 miles)
Gulliver's Land (61 miles)
Wicksteed Park (67 miles)
Nestled on the streets between the old Tudor buildings in the centre of Tewkesbury, the town's Mop Fair can trace its history back to at least 1199. Originally an event to allow the working classes to find work for the coming year, the modern day fair has less to do with employment and more to do with thrills on the rides and fun on the games stalls.
Traditionally, labourers, servants, craftsmen and farmhands would be employed from October to October each year. Dressed in their Sunday best and carrying an item to signify their trade, they would come to the fair seeking to be hired for the coming year. A person without any particular skill would signify this by carrying a mop head - hence the name "mop fair". Once they had agreed terms, their new employer would give them a small amount of money to fasten their contract - the "fasten-penny".
Stalls at the fair offering various games, food and drink would be available for the newly employed worker to relieve themselves of their coin. By the mid 1800s, Tewkesbury's mop fair was also featuring roundabouts, dancing girls and shooting galleries.
Today's fair is presented by local showman James Danter from Gloucester, and features a large number of thrill rides together with the more traditional games stalls and fair food - but a distinct lack of dancing girls shows!
The Mop Fair takes place on the streets of Tewkesbury
Go for a spin on the Waltzer
Roller Ghoster ghost train
Danter's Waltzer makes an appearance at the Mop Fair
There are plenty of thrills available at Tewkesbury Mop Fair
Spin on Sizzler
Riders on Freak Out fly out above the crowds
The fair takes place over two days in October every year
No dancing girls nowadays - painted backboards are about as risque as the fair gets these days
Rides and stalls can be found throughout the centre of the town
There's an impressive array of rides on offer, especially considering the event only lasts two days
Traditional fun fair games stalls nestle between the thrill rides
The annual event attracts crowds from all over Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds