Cat no. 703

The Last Barsham Faire

Running time22:23 Colour Sound 1976 Barsham, Suffolk

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A documentary about the final Barsham fair and its medieval theme.

Genre:

Documentary

Medieval style illustrations establish the theme of the Last Barsham Faire. Early morning reveals an encampment with caravans, makeshift tents and shelters. The fair is held next to the round tower church.

Against medieval music, a stilt walker, jesters, minstrels and other musicians perform amongst the crowd. There is a medieval play and maypole dancing.

One of the organisers tells how stall holders are encouraged to sell their own handmade goods, and to make their stalls look medieval. Stallholders discuss their work: a bellows maker, women who spin by hand, and a lute maker. The committee talk about what the fair means to them.

Other festivities include face painting, actors playing 'Punch and Judy', morris dancing and a man lying on a bed of nails. A performance takes place inside a tent, with children singing and dancing. A firework display ends the day.

Background Information:

Five Barsham Faires were held on Rectory Paddock, Barsham, during the 1970s. Rectory Paddock was part of the land of Mr. Don Meen.

One of the organiser's describing the aims of the fair would appear to be Simon Loftus, later of Adnam's Brewery, Southwold. In an article at www.fairsarchive.co.uk (website no longer available) he is named as one of the founders of the event.

"In the early/mid 1960s London was a magnet drawing the young and hip in from the regions, shaking off the austerity of the 1950s and riding the peak of British wealth.
As the decade drew to a close some of those incomers, and their London friends, left the city heading back out into the shires, and the quieter, slower, life of village and market town.
Some settled in North Suffolk and South Norfolk, an open countryside of low hills and wide plains spotted with marsh and cut by fen, of few towns and many villages, with the River Waveney dividing one county from the other
By 1971 a social network had developed in the Waveney area sufficiently large for a public event to be planned, in the form of a medieval fair. This was the 1972 Barsham Faire. Four more followed culminating in the Last Barsham Faire of 1976. The money raised by the fairs was used to run a variety of events throughout the region, including music, theatre, and childrens events, art shows and a travelling cinema." (from www.fairsarchive.co.uk (website no longer available))

For more information on the East Anglian fairs see www.fairsarchive.org.uk

Featured Events:

The Last Barsham Faire, 1976

Featured Buildings:

Holy Trinity Church, Barsham, Suffolk

Minstrel Films

Chris Rose

June Rose (executive producer); Chris Rose

Andy Probyn

Chris Roe; Dick Campbell (assistant editor)

Peter Downey (sound mixer); Paul Sharkey (boom operator)

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