The majority of fairs held in this country trace their ancestry back to charters and privileges granted in the medieval period. In the thirteenth century, the creation of fairs by royal charter was widespread, with the Crown making every attempt to create new fairs and to bring existing ones under their jurisdiction.
By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the majority of English fairs had been granted charters and were reorganised to fall in line with their European counterparts. The granting of charters however did not necessarily herald the right to hold a fair: it was in effect the control of revenues for the Crown in return for the control and organisation to stay with a particular town, abbey or village. Between 1199 and 1350 over fifteen hundred charters were issued granting the rights to hold markets or fairs. © Vanessa Toulmin December 1995.