Barton Fayre and the Mayor of Barton
Barton Fayre is the last of the City of Gloucester's old Charter Fairs, with roots back to a 13th Century Royal Charter. It was originally a cheese fair,a sheep fair, a hiring fair and a 'pleasure fair'.By the turn of this century, it had become primarily simply a funfair, and right up until W.W.II it was one of the largest in the country. After that, like most others, its popularity declined. until it virtually died out,except for a small, annual funfair in Gloucester Park. Some years ago, attempts were made by the City Council to revive the event as a street fair in the town centre, but it was never really successful, until after about ten years of lobbying, the Barton Residents Association persuaded the Council to close Barton Street to traffic for the day, and revive the event as a genuine community effort. This will be the fifth year of the enterprise.The first few years have been hugely successful, and included a very wide rage of stalls and entertainments. The whole thing is played for laughs, with a decided air of chaos and eccentricity about it. The City Council estimates that some 30,000 people have attended each year. The whole event is built around the Making of the Mayor of Barton.
The Mayor of Barton is a 'mock' Mayor, one of only a few left in England, and probably unique in that it is an urban office rather than one attached to a rural community. It all started when Charles II returned to the Throne. He didn't like Gloucester very much, because they had sided with Cromwell during the English Civil War, and indeed successfully withstood a famous siege, refusing entry to a force commanded by the new King's father. On return, Charles took his revenge in various ways, knocking down the City walls, and severely reducing the City boundaries. This left the Barton area outside the City. The residents didn't like that very much, and decided that, if they couldn't defer to the Mayor of Gloucester, then they'd invent their own, simply to poke fun at Gloucester's official powers-that-be. Originally, the man who had made the biggest fool of himself during the preceding year was appointed Mayor of Barton, who was always installed on 'Wap Monday', which was the opening day of the medieval Barton Fayre. Things went along swimmingly - and bibulously - until mid-Victorian times when the office fell into disuse. Around 12 years ago, the Barton Residents Association, wishing to improve the quality of life in a badly run-down area of Gloucester, revived the office, which has been a great success. Nowadays, someone who has given exemplary service to Barton is presented with the office, with the proviso that they must have lived in the area for at least two years.The views of various organisations, and the public at large are sought each year, but the Mayor of Barton is actually appointed by the COURT LEET OF BARTON SAINT MARY, an eccentric body composed of like-minded souls. And the installation is still made at Barton Fayre on the first Saturday in September. A wild procession then ensues, down to Gloucester's Guildhall, where the 'real' Mayor and Sheriff of the City are escorted back to Barton Street for refreshment and general jollity.During the year, the Mayor of Barton is frequently asked to present prizes, open events, and generally make himself useful on behalf of the community.
Barton Fayre 2000
Barton Fayre will beheld on Saturday, September 2nd this year (2000 ). Anyone who would like to take part next year might ring PETER ARNOLD on 01452 537880, or ALAN MYATT on 01452 307958 Or E-mail Peter on PeteArnold@aol.com
POPULAR LICENCEES RETURN TO BARTON STREET
John and Lena Godsell, the most popular landlord and landlady of Barton Street's Grade II listed Vauxhall Inn for years, are coming back to the pub they served so well. For one day only. They are returning to manage Barton Fayre's famous Real Ale Bar on September 2nd. But not only will they be pulling the pints on Barton Street's craziest day of the year - they're bringing their own jazz band with them to entertain the thousands of people who flock to the Fayre each year. "Typical John," commented Joe Lynch, the Vauxhall's present landlord. "When asked him the name of the band, he told me it was the 'Memphis Four' - but there might be five of them ! It will be great to see John and Lena back though. I'm sure many people will want to come along and renew acquaintance."
The Vauxhall's Real Ale Bar has become an integral part of Barton Fayre, but it's only one of a host of attractions planned for this year. The equally popular Wild West Shoot Out will be returning to the Blenheim Inn, there will be performances by the Salvation Army Band, and by a Gospel Choir, and demonstrations of Eastern magic by an Indian Fakir. The police are throwing open the Barton Street police station for the day. A new feature this year will be the finish of the Spring Centre's annual sponsored walk, which start's from the Centre's headquarters in Quedgely, and proceeds along the canal bank, through the Docks and on to Barton Street. The walkers are scheduled to arrive in Barton Street at around 1.30pm, where they will be greeted by Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien and the Mayor and Sheriff of Gloucester, as well as the new Mayor of Barton, Town Crier, Alan Myatt. There will even be a visit from Queen Victoria's Rat Catcher, although his role at the Fayre is something of a mystery. "Don't ask me what he does," says Barton Fayre Committee Chairman, Peter Arnold. "I'm only the Chairman. Nobody tells me anything !"
Further information from:
PETER ARNOLD 01452 537880
ALAN MYATT 01452 307958
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