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Bart’s Fair returns to Smithfield

After a short break of 168 years, Bartholomew Fair is returning this September

By Matthew Bell

Revellers gaily celebrate in a water colour and ink drawing of fair
Bartholomew Fair By Thomas Rowlandson (1807) Credit Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917 Met Museum/Wikicommons

There is something big to look forward to in September. Dust off your ducking stools – Bartholomew Fair is returning to the City of London after 168 years.

When David Wilcox and I wrote last year about re-starting Bart’s Fair, which had run from 1133 and was closed down in 1855, we hoped that it would be taken up by the City of London in time for the 900th anniversary of St Bart’s this year. David had done some fantastic work on ‘Museum of the Streets’ and was keen for the Fair to take in some developing digital ideas. Meanwhile, I had spoken to masses of people, including Livery companies, local residents and businesses and everyone agreed it was a tremendous idea.

When the City of London’s ‘Destination City’ officially started late last year, I ensured that the Bartholomew Fair relaunch was on the desk of the new Director the morning she took office. As a Councillor in the City, I am used to things taking a long time to process, so it is with some degree of surprise (and excitement) that we are able to write that it was rubber stamped by the Corporation last month and is due to happen this September.

The plan is that it will once again, become an annual event.

As the Corporation is keen to have events that take in the whole of the Square Mile, it is no longer a local fair but now a City-wide extravaganza. At the time of going to press, the dates are not precise but it will be from around August 30th to the end of September.

This does not leave much time of course and there is much to do. While the City are planning a website to go with the festival type feel, David Wilcox is creating a more neighbourhood-focussed one at bartsfair.city initially concentrating on our EC1 area.

This article is from the June/July 2023 edition of EC1 Echo. Click here to download your copy now

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