Corby Pole Fair awarded Lottery grant

6th December 2021

Corby Pole Fair has been awarded a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to celebrate local history.

The Corby Pole Fair steering group has received a Heritage Fund grant of £158,000 to stage a major year-long community heritage celebration focused around the Corby Pole Fair on 3rd June 2022.

The Pole Fair is a major community celebration which takes place in the Old Village area of Corby every 20 years and is said to have been celebrated in some form for over a thousand years, with the next one planned to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the volunteer steering group, alongside project partners Made With Many, will be able to continue this important tradition through a spectacular day celebrating local heritage. There are lots of historical stories associated with the Pole Fair, from its evolution as a small Viking settlement, to the right to hold fairs granted by Henry III in 1226, and the story of why Elizabeth I granted the Corby Charter after an accident in a bog. Next June’s event aims to tell these stories through a variety of engaging activities, including a pageant, a living history encampment as well as Open Days at Corby Heritage Centre for visitors to explore Pole Fair archives dating back to 1902.

Additional activities happening both before and after the main event are also part of the plan, which was created following a period of consultation during 2020, when the steering group surveyed and had conversations with local residents to find out what they wanted from the celebration. In the months running up to the fair there will be workshops with schools and community groups to learn about Corby’s history, and the opportunity to create artwork to be showcased at the fair in June, including the making of large scale puppets of significant figures which will lead a walking parade through the Old Village. 

Local groups will also be invited to make decorative archways to adorn the three gateways to the Old Village, where the local Vicar will carry on the tradition of reading the Corby town charter at dawn on the day of the fair. Visitors to the fair will also be expected to pay a small toll to enter the fair on the day, or risk ending up in the village stocks!

The committee also have plans for a wide range of artistic and community activities, including music, street performers, a teddy bears’ picnic and community breakfast, which need to be funding from other sources. So, to supplement the generous Lottery funding that has made the event possible, an additional crowdfunder and sponsorship opportunities for local businesses have been set up.

Following the 2022 Pole Fair in June, video footage of the event will be made into a film to capture this special day in Corby history, which will be shown through local and online screenings. Permanent heritage boards will also be installed across the Old Village and a digital archive will be stored in the Corby Heritage Centre as a legacy for the enjoyment and education of generations to come.

“Corby Pole Fair is a very special day for the people of Corby and we are extremely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for recognising the uniqueness of our event and supporting us so handsomely. Thanks to National Lottery players we are looking forward to a truly magical day.”

Denise Westwood, Chair of the Pole Fair Steering Group

“We are delighted to support Corby in continuing this tradition which dates back to over a thousand years ago. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this unique part of Corby’s history will continue to be enjoyed by all.”

Anne Jenkins, Director, England Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

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Last updated 25th March 2022

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