History of Corby Pole Fair

Local dignitaries being carried in sedan chairs at Corby Pole Fair 1982 © Glyn Dobbs (Northants Telegraph)

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Corby Pole Fair archive film

Watch the full 35-minute film below, made by HD Media CIC and their young media trainees, which had a premiere screening at the Savoy cinema in June 2021. Click here to share this film on facebook

Corby Charter and Pole Fair 1585 – 2002 (film by HD Media CIC)

Chairing and the Charter

Read about the longstanding tradition of Chairing at Corby Pole Fair, and the resident of the Old Village who was chaired on Friday 3rd June 2022.

An extraordinary custom

Read about the extraordinary custom of Pole Fair in a guest blog by Helen Watts, Pole Fair community steering group member and Corby Heritage Centre Volunteer.

History of Corby Pole Fair

The Pole Fair is a major community celebration, which last took place on Friday 3rd June 2022. This date links the original granting of the Royal Charter to Corby by Queen Elizabeth I in 1585 with the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, created to celebrate the long years of service by Queen Elizabeth II.

This unique tradition comes around only every 20 years, attracting large crowds to enjoy outdoor attractions, entertainment and of course, the reading of the Royal Charter at the three entrances to the village at dawn.

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. This year’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.

There are numerous other traditions that take place at every fair, including floral gateways to the old village area of Corby, a greasy pole competition and a roast ox. Previous fairs have also included markets, performances, historical re-enactments and a large fun fair. All visitors to Corby village are also expected to pay a small toll to enter the fair on the day, or risk ending up in the village stocks!

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Last updated 2nd December 2022

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