Wednesday, 8 September, 2010

St Giles Fair, Oxford

Today was the second day of the St Giles Fair in Oxford. While going to work in the morning I passed the monstrous trucks and silent rides. I decided that I will have to come in the evening when the lights are on and the rides are active.  St Giles is a wide street leading north from the centre of Oxford. It was kind of a  déjà vu moment, reminding me of roads being closed for fairs back home in Kolkata during my childhood. St Giles is actually a private road owned by the St John's Church and by closing the road once a year, the church maintains its ownership of the road.
The fair has a long history. Here is what I found on the Wikipedia. If you see the original post, click  here please.
"The origins of the fair related to St Giles' Church at the north end of St Giles'. This was originally completed in 1120, but the church was not actually consecrated until 1200, by St Hugh of Lincoln, a Carthusian monk and bishop. As part of the commemoration of the consecration, St Giles' Fair was established. The fair continues to this day, nowadays as a funfair, held on the Monday and Tuesday after the Sunday following 1 September, which is St Giles' Day.
The medieval fair was held in Walton Manor, where it took place in the St Giles' churchyard on St Giles Day and during the following week. Queen Elizabeth I stayed in Oxford between 3–10 September 1567 and watched the fair from the windows of St John's College on the east side of St Giles'.
Traditionally, anyone with a beershop was allowed to bring barrels of beer to St Giles' Fair for sale. Another custom was that any householder in St Giles itself could sell beer and spirits during the fair by hanging the bough of a tree over their front door.
The fair evolved from the St Giles' parish wake, first recorded in 1624, and which became known as St Giles' Feast.  In the 1780s, it was a toy fair, with cheap items for sale. By 1800, it had become a more general fair with stalls and rides. From the 1830s, the fair included adult amusements and it became more rowdy, so much so that there were calls for it to be closed. By the Victorian era, with train travel excursions becoming available, the fair was attracting people from places as far away as Birmingham and Cardiff."
Some photographs I took of the fair.
They were playing some loud music inside. I just liked the lights. It was bright and fair-ish!
You could get up on this tower to get an elevated view of the fair.
Children's rides. I loved this fire engine.
Little girl being helped down from the bus. Reminds me of my childhood. I was a ride addict and I loved going to fairs with my father who used to indulge me a lot. :)
Little boy in a double decker bus.
Now for adult rides. All of them looked scary. Once upon a time I used to enjoy these rides. Now when I look at them, I cannot imagine for the life of me why.
Closer look. You can see some people clutching their heads, eyes shut.
Another one of those.
This looks more like a wind mill than a ride!
Young girl posing with a soft toy. She must have won this in one of the throwing stalls.
The teddy looks kind of sad being clutched so tightly!
Little girl with a balloon. This reminds me of a story we read in Radiant Reader way back in school. So there was this young girl called Molly who got a yellow balloon which she loved but which escaped from her hand and flew away. So she was very sad, but in the evening when a full moon was up, her brother Timothy pointed out the moon to Molly and said that was her balloon. Funny how stories from childhood suddenly comes to mind.

Last but not the least food. How can a fair be complete without the food? Apart from sausages, there were burgers, quintessential English chips, candied apples, donuts, candy floss and so much more.
This fair looked like any modern day fair. I cannot help wonder how it used to be in medieval days. I wish they had retained some customs from those days.