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Stratford-upon-Avon’s Mop Fair

The 2017 annual Mop Fair in Stratford-upon-Avon will take place on Wednesday 11 October and Thursday 12 October. It’s a tradition that can be traced back hundreds of years!

The Stratford Mop was first granted a royal charter by Edward VI in 1554 with further charters by James I and Charles II.

Mop fairs were originally fairs where workers hired themselves out to employers for the next 12 months. The workers would indicate their skill by carrying or wearing an item – a shepherd would carry his crook or a lock of wool; a labourer would carry a piece of plaited hay; waggoners wore whipcord in their hats, and maidservants would have mops or brooms. Once hired, a worker would remove the item and wear bright ribbons instead. Those who were offered a job would be paid a retainer which they would spend on food, drink and games at the fair.

The Runaway Mop was held the following week for employers who found they had made a poor choice to re-hire staff.

This year’s Charity Mop is on Wednesday 11 October from 4 pm until 11 pm. The Main Mop is on Thursday 12 October from 11 am to midnight. The associated ‘Runaway Mop' will take place on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 October 2017.

The fair is opened by the mayor who holds a pig or ox roast before the opening. The mayor is then led around the fair by the master of the mop, and the mayor chooses a ride to go on. On the first morning of the fair (the charity mop), local children can enjoy the rides free of charge.

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