Monday October 17th is rapidly approaching and this means that the annual Pack Monday Fair will be celebrated here in Sherborne.
The origin of this fair is very ancient under its original name of Michaelmas Day Fair, and is always held on the first Monday after the 10th October; old Michaelmas Day. The name is probably a corruption of ‘pact’, meaning agreement, as Michaelmas was the time of year when new contracts were made between the farmers and the farm workers taken on for casual employment.
Now no longer an agricultural fair it is still a major event in Sherborne with the town’s main streets becoming full of visiting street traders and food stalls for the day, and a fun fair usually held on the Terraces. (You will find that many of the local businesses will close slightly early on this day).
There is a romantic tradition that Abbot Peter Ransom and his workmen, completed the nave of the Abbey on that day in 1490 and that the name came from the men packing up their tools.
For centuries Pack Monday Fair has been heralded in by a midnight procession through the town with ‘Teddy Roe’s Band‘ blowing horns and whistles and banging saucepans. This dates from the 15th century when the repairs to the Abbey after the Great Fire of 1437 were carried out by workmen under their Foreman Teddy Roe. Once the repair work had been completed, the workers packed up their tools and celebrated by marching thought the town blowing on cow horns. The wild noises may well go back to pagan times when such sounds were made to frighten away devils on the even of a festival.
In Sherborne Museum there is a lovely picture depicting Teddy Roe’s Band from the 15th century to the 20th century, and a large horn used by the band is on display below the it. (Sherborne Museum is always worth a look if you’ve the time).
Do enjoy this year’s Pack Monday Fair!