Honiton Fair

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Honiton's charter fair, dating from 1221, lasts for three days, and is one of the few which preserve the ancient ‘Glove is up’ custom. In former times, while a fair was in progress special rules applied as regards who was allowed to trade in the town and what rights and privileges they had. It was thus important that it was clear to all when the fair officially started and finished, and the normal way to do this was to exhibit a large hand or glove. At Honiton in Devon, the Town Crier appears at midday on the first Tuesday after 19 July, St Margaret's Eve, carrying a twelve-foot pole, covered with flowers, and on top a gilded leather glove. He calls out:Oyez, Oyez, OyezThe glove is upThe Fair has begunNo man shall be arrested until the glove is taken downGod save the Queen

All the children in the audience echo his words as he speaks. Next, hot coppers are thrown from an upstairs window of the Angel Hotel, to be scrambled for. The whole process is repeated outside the King's Arms, and later in the week at the White Lion. The glove is taken down to signify the official end to the fair.

Kightly, 1986: 123–4;Hogg, 1971: 36–7;Sykes, 1977: 109.

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