Keywords: medieval, Winchester fairs rights regulations jurisdiction judicial administration revenues commerce monopolization assizes tolls distraint Southampton
Subject: St. Giles fair, Winchester
Original source: Hampshire Record Office, Winchester Cathedral archives, DC/A1/15
Transcription in: G.W. Kitchin, ed. A Charter of Edward the Third Confirming and Enlarging the Privileges of St. Giles fair, Winchester, Hampshire Record Society, vol.6, pt.2 (1886), 26-42
Original language: Latin
Location: Winchester
Date: 1349


Edward, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, officers, and all other bailiffs and loyal subjects, greetings.

Know that whereas our ancestor the renowned Lord William, formerly King of England, by his charter gave and granted to God and the Old Minster of St. Peter, in Winchester, and to the Bishop of Winchester of that time, a fair [to be held] at the church of St. Giles situated on the east hill of Winchester – together with all the rents and judicial jurisdiction that belong to it within the city of Winchester – over the course of three whole days (that is, the day before the festival, the day of that festival, and the day following the festival); he to hold it, along with all its customary rights, as fully and freely as he [the king] might, were it his own.

And afterwards the renowned Lord Henry, once King of England, brother of the said King William, by his charter gave and granted to God and the Old Minster of St. Peter and St. Swithun, in Winchester, and to William Giffard, then bishop there, a fair at the said church of St. Giles with all the rents and judicial jurisdiction that belong to it within the city of Winchester, for eight whole days (that is, the three days that his brother King William granted, and then the five days following), along with all customary rights, as fully and freely as the same king might hold it, were it his own. And later the well-remembered Lord Stephen, once King of England, our ancestor, by his charter further granted to God and the church of Winchester, and to his brother Henry, then bishop there, and to all his successors, an increment of six consecutive days for that fair of St. Giles at Winchester. So that in total it might last fourteen consecutive days. He wishing and commanding that the said fair should, throughout those fourteen days, have all those customary rights, exemptions, and liberties it was accustomed to having, within the city and beyond, in the time of the aforesaid King Henry. Still later the well-remembered Lord Henry, once King of England, successor to King Stephen, and our ancestor, by his charter granted to God and the said church of Winchester, and to the bishop there of that time, an increment of eight days to the fair; so that whereas in the time of his grandfather King Henry it had lasted no more than eight days, henceforth it might last sixteen days.

The which charters our father, the Lord Edward, recently King of England, confirmed through his own charter; granting, for himself and his heirs to John, recently Bishop of the place, that even if he or his predecessors might not previously have used the aforesaid liberties, it was still permitted they be fully used and enjoyed henceforth (as is more fully specified in that confirmation).

We, pursuant to recent arguments put forward by the venerable father William de Edyngton, the present Bishop of that place, have been given to understand that he and his predecessors as bishops of that place, by virtue of the generic terminology of the aforesaid charters and [the requirements] of the fair, have from the time of the issuing of those charters, or otherwise from time immemorial, had their own judges, who are called Justices of the Pavilion, with cognizance of pleas and other business for the duration of the fair, as well as [the keeping of] the keys of the gates and custody of our city of Winchester throughout the time of the fair. And they have had various other liberties, exemptions, and customary rights that, even though not explicitly specified in the charters, they have been using without hindrance or opposition. And he has requested of us that, if it pleases us, such liberties, immunities, and customary rights which the Bishop and his predecessors have exercised by virtue of the generic terminology of the charters and confirmations, or from time immemorial, might be formalized by expressly specifying them in writing in a charter, and granting that the Bishop and his successors may exercise those liberties, immunities, and customary rights in perpetuity, without obstruction.

Wishing to be more fully informed about this, we commissioned our well-beloved and trustworthy William de Shareshull, John de Sancto Paulo, William de Fifhide, and William de Overton (or two or three of them) to hold an enquiry through [a jury of] reputable and law-abiding men of the county of Hampshire, under oath, from whom all the premises, circumstances, and other relevant facts about the matter might be better and more fully known. From a report on the inquisition made by the Williams at our command and submitted to our Chancery it appears that the aforesaid William, the present Bishop, and his predecessors as bishops of that place, by virtue of the aforementioned royal grants and their terminology, as well as from time immemorial, have held (and the present Bishop holds) the said fair in the said location named in those charters, now known as St. Giles' Down, for the above-stated sixteen days duration. And that by reason of this fair, and by virtue of the terminology or otherwise from time immemorial, as already stated, the present Bishop and his predecessors have exercised the following liberties and customary rights.

Viz. that whoever is then Bishop of the place has, and ought to have, judges, who are called Justices of his Pavilion of that fair, appointed by commission of the same Bishop. Each year, at the opening of the fair (that is, on the eve of St. Giles' Day, before, at, or immediately after sunrise), these justices shall ride to the South Gate of the city, or to the city gate called King's Gate, as they choose, and there enter, at which southern gate the mayor, bailiffs, and citizens of the city are to meet them and to deliver and turn over to them, as the officials acting in the name of the Bishop, the keys and custody of the south gate; and those justices shall install there whomever they wish as keepers, or janitors, of the gate. From there all shall ride together to the city's West Gate, where the mayor, bailiffs, and citizens shall in the same way deliver and turn over to the justices the keys and custody of that gate and the city's wool trone, and the justices appoint a keeper, or janitor, of that gate. And there they shall have a proclamation made about the fair, with the following gist: viz. that no merchant nor anyone else, for the period of sixteen days, may buy, sell, or put up for sale any merchandize anywhere within a radius of seven leagues around the fair site, other than at that fair, upon [penalty of] forfeiture the merchandize to the use of the Bishop.

This proclamation having been made, the justices, mayor, bailiffs, and citizens shall ride together to the North Gate, and there, in like fashion, shall be delivered and turned over to the justices the keys and custody of the gate; they may appoint whomever they wish as keeper, or janitor there. Following that, the justices shall have the same proclamation made, there and anywhere else in the city they wish, and as often as they choose and are accustomed to doing. From there the justices, mayor, bailiffs, and citizens shall ride together to the city's East Gate and its keys and custody shall likewise be delivered to them, with the exception of tolls and customs [collected] at the East Gate that are due or belong to the Abbess and Convent of St. Mary's, Winchester, their successors, and their church. The justices, mayor, bailiffs, and citizens from there shall ride together to the Pavilion of the Bishop's fair atop St. Giles' Hill, outside the city; once there, the mayor, bailiffs, and citizens may withdraw, returning to the city when they wish.

The justices may choose and appoint a mayor and bailiffs to serve in those posts in the city for the duration of the fair; in addition, a coroner to perform within the city those duties that pertain to the office of coroner, for the duration of the fair, and he may be a man of the city or an outsider, whichever the justices wish. And they shall have a marshal to execute their judgements and serve them as required, both within the city and outside it.

From the time when the keys and custody of the gates are handed over, as specified above, the Bishop shall have, through his justices and other officers, custody of the entire city and cognizance of all pleas relating to transgressions, debts, and any other contracts, whether involving residents or tenants of the city or others, whomsoever they may be, within a radius of seven leagues from the fair site. In addition, all other men or merchants, of whatever kind, who are parties to contracts or agreements made, no matter when or where – whether within this country or overseas – are to hold and plead cases relating to the same at the said Pavilion, so long as someone of the city or the specified surrounding area introduces a related plaint within the specified duration.

All personal actions initiated before the justices, between the opening of the fair and the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary [7 September] should be conducted and regulated first on the basis of summonses and attachments, and afterwards by distraints, just as is the usual procedure in our royal court, and as the case demands or requires. And from the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary to the end of the sixteen days the procedure in all pleas and plaints introduced – in accordance with ancient custom of that fair used (as already stated) from time immemorial – shall begin with distraint and continue, always by distraints, hour to hour or day to day, at the discretion of the justices, in order to provide plaintiffs with swifter remedy. Both residents of the city and everyone else are to be subject to the same process in presenting arguments and being administered justice. If, when before the justices, any of the parties submits to an inquest in these kinds of pleas, or in any other kind of plea whatever over which the justices of the Pavilion have cognizance, the marshal is to be instructed to convene before the justices an inquest jury, whether of city residents or outsiders – be it men of the Soke, or of the fair, or merchants found at the fair, (whether of the city, or of London, or any other place within the country or from overseas) – as proves necessary. Once the jurors have duly assembled, then, in the presence of the party or parties, they are to be administered a collective oath concerning those things which the justices ought to put before them; that is, on pain of imprisonment, or otherwise a fine, at the discretion of the justices (just as is the usual procedure in our royal court before our judges); and this whether they be residents of the city, or Londoners, or foreigners. After someone is convicted by this kind of inquest, or by his own admission, in any personal action, he is at once, by the judgement and orders of the justices, to be attached by his body and handed over to the marshal for safekeeping until he has satisfied the [opposing] party and the court.

Similarly, any who effect a rescue from the officials of the Bishop, or his justices or their officers – in the fair or its Pavilion, or within the seven leagues, or at Southampton – or who obstruct them in carrying out their duties or the orders of the justices (whether they be residents of the city, or outsiders, or from Southampton, or anywhere else) are at once to be arrested, taken to the Pavilion, and there detained until they have paid a fine to the Bishop for that trespass or rescue. And if they, or anyone convicted in a lawsuit and committed to custody, as mentioned above, within the sixteen days of the fair refuses to make satisfaction to the other party or parties in a lawsuit or pay a fine to the Bishop, as ought to be done, he is, as soon as the sixteen days are over, to be taken to Wolvesey and there detained in the Bishop's custody until he pays the fine and makes satisfaction in the way mentioned.

All actions for debt between merchants (whomever they may be) that arise during the fair are to be held – as was always the custom in the past – before the justices, by proof of tallies, in accordance with merchant law, if the complainant wishes it. And if any [accused debtor?] who are attached or distrained to appear before the justices, at the suit of some complainant, refuses to submit himself to the judgement of the justices within the aforesaid sixteen days, then at the close of the sixteenth day of the fair the goods and chattels that have been attached, distrained on, or arrested should be appraised by reputable and law-abiding men of the Winchester Soke and turned over, at the discretion of the justices, to the plaintiffs [to satisfy them] for their debts and damages, if any of the distraints suffices. If the value of the distraints does not amount to the sum of the debts and damages, then they are to be turned over to cover a portion, greater of smaller, of the debt; this being the usage of the men of the city of Winchester and London, as well as of other persons of other places.

All pleas initiated before the justices that are not brought to a conclusion within the sixteen days shall, at the close of the sixteenth day, be adjourned to the eve of St. Giles in the following year; that date is to be assigned to the parties of such pleas.

Many tenants of the Bishop hold their lands or tenements of the Bishop by the service of performing suit at the said Pavilion. They are to come there each year on the eve of St. Giles, before the first hour, to perform their suit, armed and horsed, as often as necessary. The justices shall choose from them whomever they wish – three or four, or more or fewer, as they consider necessary – to remain and provide service at the fair throughout its duration, to carry out the judgements and orders of the justices at any location within the seven leagues and at Southampton, as often as needed, and for keeping the peace and the fair secure; this being customarily undertaken at the cost of the Bishop. Those tenants are to return and be prepared undertake what has been indicated whenever, and as often as, they are forewarned by the justices.

During the fair there are to be there certain servants and officers to receive the plaints, record the pleas, and execute the judicial sentences; viz. the chamberlain, the marshal, the usher, and various other servants of the fair. They may take, from those who prosecute plaints, or are distrained on, or convicted in pleas before the justices (or in many other cases) the customary rewards or fees – though these may be reduced, if there is reasonable cause, at the discretion of the Bishop or his justices – and have from time immemorial taken such fees for the performance of their duties. Distraints ought to be reasonable and not too severe, at the discretion of the justices and as the business coming up before them demands. Each day of the fair the marshal, immediately after sunset, shall ride through the middle of the site and have public proclamation made that each merchant is to close his booth without delay. Once such a proclamation has been made, no-one may sell any merchandize, nor expose it for sale; should anyone do so, and be convicted of the same, he is to pay a fine, to be determined by the justices, to the Bishop for that trespass. And from the making of the proclamation until sunrise of the following day no-one, except the Bishop's officers and justices, should be roaming about the fair site; anyone so doing is at once to be attached by those ministers, taken to the Pavilion, and must pay a fine, as already indicated.

No merchant is to have a fire within the fair site overnight, unless it be in a lamp or mortar. If anyone does otherwise, he is to be punished by amercement. If any house within the barriered area of the fair is broken into or dismantled in order to enable someone quickly to pass through, with items purchased or to be sold, and evade paying customs or toll, whoever owns the house shall be punished by a severe amercement, to be determined by the justices; moreover, those items carried off without custom or toll are forfeit to the Bishop.

The justices and the Bishop's treasurer then in office at Wolveseye, along with the clerk of the aforesaid pleas, may receive each year four basins with ewers, by way of fee, as they have been accustomed to receive from ancient times, from those foreign merchants called Dynamitters merchants, who sell brass vessels at the fair.

Also, the mayor and bailiffs of the city, after they have been selected by the justices, as mentioned above, may make – and have the duty to make – summonses, attachments, distraints, and to carry out any other orders from the justices, stemming from all plaints and pleas [tried] before the justices in the Pavilion of pleas – that is, those relating to matters arising within the city – without any interference of obstruction from any resident of the city. And whenever citizens are summoned, or forewarned, [to appear] before the justices in the Pavilion, during the said sixteen day period, they are to come, without objection, to undertake whatever is their duty to do, according to the laws and customs of the fair. Furthermore, the aldermen and all men of the tithings within the seven-league radius are obligated to come whenever hue and cry is raised or blood is spilled. If anything else occurs to disturb the peace in their aldermanries or tithings, they are to attach the offenders and obtain from them surety (in those cases where there is something to be taken) for their abiding by the laws and customs of the fair. And they are to come on a daily basis, throughout the duration of the fair, to the Pavilion to report to the justices such cases as have occurred; the justices will proceed further [on these matters] according to the laws and customs.

The Bishop is to have all animals, goods, and chattels which are classified as waifs and strays found within the seven-league limits.

At the beginning of the fair the justices are to elect, from among the Bishop's tenants who owe suit at the Pavilion, some judicious man as coroner and take his oath that he shall undertake and perform each and every duty that pertains to the coroner's office, both within the fair site and in the surrounding seven-league district. This coroner will be subordinate to the said justices, as if they were royal justices. Those justices will preside over all pleas of the Crown within the said district, whether [initiated]> by appeal or by indictment from facts that have come to light. For the duration of the fair they may pass judgements thereon and put them into effect, just as fully as do our own justices in such cases elsewhere in the realm of England.

Even though the town of Southampton is more than seven leagues distant from the fair site, the justices are permitted to despatch to that town, every year on the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary (or before or afterwards, as they please) one of the officers of the Bishop's Pavilion – viz. the marshal – to make proclamation there that no selling or buying of marketable goods or merchandize, nor the tronage or pesage of such saleable items, with the exception of foodstuffs, may take place in the town of Southampton for the duration of the fair, upon penalty of forfeiture of those marketable goods and merchandize to the use of the Bishop. All merchants with marketable goods and merchandize are to come to the fair, as more fully set out in a composition made between Aymer, formerly Bishop-elect of Winchester, and the community of the town of Southampton, confirmed by a charter of the Lord Henry, once king of England.

The justices shall post officers or wardens at the bridge of Stockbridge, at Romsey, Redbridge, Crabwood, Hursley, Mainsbridge, Otterbourne, Kingbridge, Curbridge, Alresford, and at various other locations, to collect and receive, to the use of the Bishop, tolls and customs on merchandize and other saleable goods passing over bridges and through other transit points, by the same method and rates as used in the fair and the city and in the seven-league district for the duration of the fair.

No merchant of the city of Winchester, nor anyone else, may sell, or is empowered to sell, or may put up for sale, merchandize or any wares within the city for the sixteen-day duration of the fair; should they do so, the goods shall be forfeited to the Bishop. No-one is to have a shop open during that period, nor should any pedlar open his backpack to sell or show wares – such as purses, gloves, knives, and other small goods – unless he has paid a [licence] fee to be determined by the justices or someone else deputed by the Bishop. The same justices, or others deputed by them to the task, shall, on the opening day of the fair, relocate city traders in foodstuffs, requiring them to move from the spots where those kinds of victuals are customarily sold in the city, to other places designated for that purpose outside the city, and that their victuals not be sold elsewhere. All bakers, butchers, and fishmongers of the city are to come to the Pavilion, on the first day of the fair; from them the justices will select the best-endowed, most law-abiding, and most judicious to provide those coming to the fair with wholesome, suitable, and sufficient foods, taking their oaths to that effect. So that, if any unwholesome food shall be found, those in possession of it shall forfeit it all, and nonetheless be heavily amerced by the justices.

The Bishop shall have cognizance of pleas of freshforce and intrusions into tenements in the city, holding pleas of lands and tenements – both those in the city and those being within seven leagues – by [authority of] our letters patent. And he shall have cognizance of those pleas [initiated] before the justices at the suit of any parties who wish to prosecute or bring a plaint before them, and they may render and execute judgements as cases demand or require. All lords or others who have the right to hold a court baron within the seven leagues ought to come – and anciently were accustomed to come – on the opening day of the fair before the justices at the Pavilion to request permission to hold court sessions and pleas therein during the fair. The justices may give them licence for a fee, or on some other basis, as the justices wish. No lord nor anyone else shall hold any kind of court anywhere within the aforesaid precincts of the fair for its duration – nor has ever held such, since time immemorial, without obtaining permission in the manner described. Should any do so, they are to be amerced at the discretion of the justices. Even if we ourself, or our Steward of the Household, or officials of our Marshalcy, should come within the precincts during fair-time, yet those justices shall preside over all pleas and exercise whatever other liberties belong to the Bishop and the fair, notwithstanding that the fair and its precincts are established within the verge. So that as soon as the Steward or Marshal, or those who preside over pleas of the Marshalcy, have been warned by the justices, they will withdraw from the precincts and not undertake or perform within those precincts any of the functions pertaining to the Marshalcy.

The same justices, in the name of the Bishop, may hold an assize of bread, wine, ale, and other victuals in the city, in the fair, or anywhere else within the seven leagues, during the sixteen days. The Bishop's officers may seize measures, weights, balances, and ell-rods being used in the city and the fair, or within the seven leagues, for the duration of the fair, take them to the Pavilion, and in the presence of the justices subject them to verification. Any measures, weights, balances, or ell-rods found not to conform to the assize standard are to be melted down, and those persons using them during the fair to be amerced; such amercements ought to be, and customarily have been, levied to the use of the Bishop.

No citizen of the city, nor anyone else who is not a member of the city's merchant gild may enter the fair with merchandize or commercial goods after the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary without paying a fee to the Bishop, to be determined by the justices.

Those justices, on any day and at any hour it suits them during the sixteen days of the fair, may enter the city and taste-test and subject to the assize all casks of wine offered for sale in that city, wherever they are found, by sampling from each of them, Should any be found to contain mixed, sour, or wholesome wine, they may remove them from the cellars and have the bottoms smashed; the taverners, or owners of that wine, are to be heavily amerced to the use of the Bishop.

Cordwainers, cobblers, and any other workmen or artisans whatsoever may not carry on their crafts or occupational activities, nor sell anything – nor should anyone buy from them – anywhere in the city except at the fair, under penalty of forfeiting [their products].

During the same period the justices are, as often as they wish, to send officers of the Bishop into the city, to take one or two loaves of every kind of bread for sale in the city and send them to the Pavilion. There those officers are to weigh the loaf or loaves that have been taken, and if any is or are found to be defective that kind of loaf shall be forfeit to the Bishop and the baker of the same will be adjudged to undergo the pillory, or otherwise may pay a fine, at the discretion of the justices.

During the sixteen days the Bishop may collect tolls or customs at all city gates. Viz.
from each cartload of firewood or coal to be sold, a certain customary portion;
for grain to be sold, a halfpenny per horseload. a farthing for each load carried by a man, and twopence. per cartload;
a penny per cartload of hay or straw to be sold, or a farthing per truss;
for a cartload of any other goods to be sold, arriving at the city or fair during the sixteen days, twopence;
a halfpenny from every bread stall in the city High Street each Sunday during fair-time;
for each sack of wool sold within the city walls, by permission of the justices, fourpence for the Bishop's pesage and a penny each from the buyer and the seller as the fee of the pesager appointed by the Bishop;
also from all small goods and artisanal products sold in the city the usual tolls and customs due are taken, and are accustomed to be taken during fair-time.

Furthermore, from all merchandize and saleable goods that come or are brought to the fair before the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary the Bishop levies, and is accustomed to levy, the following tolls and customs, viz.:
twopence from every bale of anything avoirdupois and each pack of mercery;
twopence per piece of whole wax;
a penny per load carried by a man;
a halfpenny per backpack; whether containing cloth or avoirdupois;
if two men share a bale of these kinds of goods, each of them is to give twopence;
from each cart of merchandize not packed up in bales – such as fish, leather, iron or other things – or for a bale of whichever of these brought by cart, fourpence;
fourpence per falcon sold;
fourpence per ferret sold;
fourpence per ape sold;
fourpence per bear sold;
twopence for a weighing or for the weigher;
a halfpenny per load of hurdles;
4d. per cask of wine or cider;
a halfpenny per cart of hay or wheat;
a penny from each tapener, covering the whole period of the fair;
a halfpenny per untreated hide;
fourpence from a tanner
one goose of every thirteen sold.

No one may be exempted from these tolls, except merchants and citizens of the cities of London and Winchester and the Honour of Wallingford; this [exemption is in effect] from the opening day of the fair until the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary. In the event that those merchants and citizens of London and Winchester, or any other merchant or person from any other town or region, shall, after the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary, brings or transports any merchandize or commercial goods through the fair, for the purpose of selling the same or of buying at the fair, then he shall pay the justices for a licence to do this in regard to merchandize or commercial goods thus imported or exported. If refusing, they will be compelled, by distraints made on their merchandize.

The Bishop of Winchester and all his predecessors as bishops of that place, by virtue of the aforementioned charters, or otherwise from time immemorial, have hitherto enjoyed, through the sixteen days of the fair, not only all the various customs and liberties indicated above, but also many other liberties and customs not specified above, or not having come to mind, pertaining to the fair, fully and peacefully, without any opposition or impediment. Although our father allowed, by his charter granted to John, recently Bishop of Winchester, a predecessor the present bishop, that he and his successors might have in perpetuity at the said location an annual fair of twenty-four days duration – that is, the aforementioned sixteen days and an extension of the eight days following – with the liberties and free customs pertaining to that kind of fair, the present bishop and his predecessors have not exercised any other liberties or customs in the fair during the eight-day extension, than such as are expected to be associated with a fair, and are regularly used at English fairs.

We, inspired by a pious desire for the glorification of God and enrichment of the church of Winchester, and out of the sincere devotion we have towards Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles, to whom the church is dedicated – and this all the more gladly in the time of William de Edyngton, the present Bishop of that place, taking into account his qualities, desiring to provide him and the church committed to his rule and that of his successors with the assurance of a tranquil and untroubled advancement, and being conscious that he has taken upon himself demanding and prolonged labours on affairs of the realm, and has faithfully and obediently conducted our business, judiciously and productively – and given that we are also the patron of the Church of Winchester, founded by our ancestors, as a special favour, we accept, approve, and confirm each and every of the liberties, immunities, and customs recited above, which have been ascertained by, and are in the record of, the aforementioned enquiry. And lest in the future, through some growth of human malice or lapse in memory, these should be called into doubt or into dispute, or challenged on some technicality, in order that they may rather endure and be fixed, without any question or doubt, for all time, we, on behalf of ourself and our heirs, have issued in a fuller form [than normally required] the grant, confirmed by this charter, to William the present Bishop and his church, that he and his successors shall have and use each and every liberty, immunity, and custom recited above, freely, fully, and peaceably, without denial from ourself, our heirs, our justices, sheriffs, or any other of our officials. Moreover, we wish and grant, for ourself and our heirs, that the same Bishop and his successors may have and use all other liberties and customs which he and his predecessors have used – by virtue of the aforesaid charters, the generic terminology contained therein, and of the said fair – not specified above but perhaps overlooked and omitted by the inquisition held, in the same way that the present Bishop and his predecessors formerly have used and enjoyed them.


This extraordinarily detailed description of the operation of a fair, in the form of a privy seal charter granted 10 November 1349 to Bishop William de Edington, has the hallmarks of an author with a strong administrative bent or a legal mind, attentive to details, although the various clauses are not quite as well organized as they might have been (e.g. the interruptions of the train of thought on administration of the assizes by other matters not directly relevant). Bishop Edington may well have been closely involved in its drafting, not simply in approving the text, although one suspects that one or more of the king's legal experts was also involved. It shows a desire to have matters which had in the past been subject to dispute spelled out clearly enough to avoid future challenge.

It was to Bishop Walkelin, a kinsman of the Conqueror, that William Rufus granted the fair (or at least the profits therefrom) in 1096. From the outset there was a downside for the city authorities, for the king – who was sole lord of the borough – conceded that the bishop might take all royal revenues due from the city in the days when the fair took place;. If not initially, this would have eventually necessitated interposing episcopal officials into the administration of affairs that generated these revenues – a compromise to civic independence that would only have worsened as later kings progressively extended the length of the fair, to what amounted to, at times, close to a month. The bishop's extensive jurisdiction during fair-time was not restricted to its main site atop a hill just east of the walled city, but extended over the city and into a temporary precinct of the immediate hinterland, superseding not only civic jurisdiction but that of a number of manorial lords. The extent of control the bishop exercised, jurisdictionally, geographically, and chronologically made it possible to provide the secure conditions that would attract foreign merchants. On the other hand, they fuelled an antagonism between burgess and monastic communities that would have existed anyway but was exacerbated by the bishop becoming virtually the lord of the town during fair-time.

The chronological growth of fair-time is a reflection of the success the event was having. Though it is likely the fair began as a venue for selling regional agricultural produce (including wool) and livestock – the timing of the event well suiting disposal of the product from summer shearing – it benefited from careful administration and from the advantages of Winchester's location, for the city was well-connected by roads to the coast, to London, and to many of the southern counties. Within a century of its foundation the St. Giles fair had become one of the leading English fairs, on a par with those of St. Ives and Boston, and certainly the most important one held in southern England. This may have been some consolation to the citizens for the supplanting, during the same period, of Winchester by London as the effective capital of the realm, certainly in terms of being the commercial centre. The fair drew merchants from across England – particularly contingents from London (so large that the city's husting court suspended business during the Winchester fair), but also from towns of the Midlands and the north, such as Leicester (where attendance at Winchester fair was an allowable essoin), Lincoln, and York – from Ireland, northern France, Normandy, Flanders (particularly), and other parts of the European mainland, including the odd Spaniard and Italian. Comparison of the tolls levied at the fair with city tolls collected outside of fair-time suggests that the fair's business became based primarily on its original commodities (mentioned above), cloth, and perhaps leather and certain foodstuffs that tended to be sold in bulk (such as wine and fish). The tolls on exotic animals points to a separate clientele in buyers for aristocratic households, who would also have been interested in luxury goods available at the fair; the presence of a relatively high number of wealthy households in southern England was likely another factor in the early success of Winchester's fair. Local or regional artisans are also likely to have featured prominently – alongside manufactures of some outsiders, such as the London goldsmiths documented as being there in the early fourteenth century, or the metal-workers of Dinant mentioned above – as are imported spices and perhaps dyestuffs.

The official enquiry preceding the 1349 grant was not the first that investigated St. Giles' Fair. The extensive control the Bishop of Winchester enjoyed over commerce during fair-time must have been the envy of other fair-owners, and in 1302 the Abbot of Westminster sought to defend a similar monopoly for his October fair there; this had been licensed in 1245 and extended in 1248 to a duration of a fortnight, while in 1250 the fair was granted the same customs used at St. Giles' Fair. In 1298 the duration was extended to a full month. The abbot asserted that during this time other fairs were supposed to suspend operations and all London shops to close. The resistance this provoked, and the response of the abbot in breaking into houses rented by visiting merchants in order to distrain wares being sold therein, wound up as a legal battle and a matter addressed before the parliament of Michaelmas 1302 and thereafter by the king's council. As the Abbot defended himself on the grounds of the grant of Winchester customs to Westminster, this occasioned an enquiry into St. Giles' fair, held in February 1303. The inquisition found that no merchants bringing wares to the fair were allowed to unload or sell it within the city or suburbs of Winchester, but only at the hilltop site – a key restriction that is almost submerged in the lengthy 1349 grant – and that any merchant found trading within the seven leagues, but outside the fair site, could be compelled to bring his merchandize to that site, through seizure of those goods (a matter necessarily to the forefront in the 1303 investigation). An exception was allowed in regard to grain and livestock (although toll was still payable on these to the bishop) – something that seems to be passed over in 1349. Another 1303 finding not directly addressed in 1349 was that hucksters selling bread, meat or other foodstuffs outside the marketplace had to buy a licence from the bishop; this may perhaps have been addressed in the 1349 clause concerning relocation of traders in victuals.

Though the fair may originally have been held beside St. Giles church, on the crest of St. Giles Down, for the three-day period typical of new fairs, it gradually expanded not only in duration but in physical size, spreading down the hill towards the river and the city's East Gate – for in 1162 a fire that began in traders' booths spread to the suburb beyond that gate. Before the time of the 1349 grant, however, the number of London and Lincoln merchants frequenting the fair had dropped off; at some point in Edward II's reign the large booth reserved for the Lincoln contingent was disposed of, and fewer northerners in general were coming. The geographical and chronological extension of the fair began to make it unwieldy at a time when business was declining. The 1349 grant was not likely to do much to revive business, but could only hope to assert episcopal rights to profit on such business as remained. The simple fact of the matter was that long-distance trade in bulk or luxury goods was no longer as reliant on fairs.

The lengthy description of the characteristics, jurisdiction, rights and privileges of the St. Giles fair in the above document might give the impression of a still powerful and thriving commercial institution, monopolizing regional trade for one of the longest durations of any English fair. Yet it must rather be understood as an effort to defend and preserve an institution that had passed its peak, whose earnings had declined severely, and whose ability to profit from tolls, and its power to monopolize commerce in Winchester and its environs, were the target of resentment and evasion, by both legitimate and illicit means. The St. Giles fair seems to have achieved its peak of profitability in the first half of the thirteenth century, judging from income recorded in accounts of the bishopric; these rose to just over £162 in 1250, but steadily declined thereafter. The account for 1292, though its total was lower at a little over £84, shows that the fair was still profitable enough, the largest sources of income including: ground-rents for stalls and booths, producing £25 15s. 8d (the Irish continent taking up 31 shop-windows, and the French 40); fees and tolls collected at the site entrances, amounting to £11 2s.8d, while late admission fees (for merchants entering the fair after the Nativity of the Blessed Mary) raised £5 18s.6d; fees for use of the trone generated £4 2s. 4d.; court profits amounted to £4 17s. Costs of operating the fair totalled £20 9s.7d, but two-thirds of this was to cover the costs of the bishop's household at Wolvesey during fair-time. So the net profit was very respectable, particularly compared to the much smaller proceeds from fairs held in small towns. Yet the war with France, particularly the conflict in Gascony, a major source of wine imports into England, contributed to lowering revenues. Obstructionism by the civic authorities had become sufficiently serious that in 1327 Bishop Stratford took opportunity of the change in national regime to complain to the king. Not only were merchants from the Midlands and the North less interested in the fair, but French merchants were less in evidence and the booth reserved for them appears to have been given over to English traders from the West Country. In 1346 revenues exceeded costs by just over £6, a meagre profit for a fair that had once been of international significance, but now could only draw from far afield a few Irish, Flemish, and Hanseatic merchants. With the disruption caused in 1349 by the first outbreak of plague, the fair made a net loss, and some episcopal action was called needed to address the crisis.

The purpose of the 1349 grant was to reassert, spell out, and crystallize the jurisdictional rights of the fair-owner, in the hope of restoring profitability closer to some former level. Even the seeming surrender of, if not the final eight-day extension itself – during which it appears that the main hilltop site was closed and fair activity continued only in the city, though doubtful the municipal authorities tolerated extensive usurpation of their powers during the continuance – then of any claim to commercial and jurisdictional monopoly during that period, should be thought of not as a concession to the citizenry who objected to the fair; rather it could be interpreted as a business move to improve profitability by reducing episcopal costs incurred in operating the fair for that additional period, and thus as another indicator of the downward pressure on the fair's financial viability.

The strategy of obtaining a detailed royal confirmation of episcopal rights to squeeze out of the fair as much revenue as possible seems to have had modest success in halting the tide in the short-term; in 1353 net profit was a little over £9. But by 1362, following a second outbreak of plague, fair finances were back in the red, with fewer participants renting plots for tents or stalls, and a number of the permanent booths having fallen into disrepair or finding no tenants during fair-time. Trimming costs did not stem the decline and it was only the receipts from judicial administration in the Pavilion that was keeping the fair afloat by the turn of the century; even in that sphere of fair administration the civic authorities were offering a certain resistance, paying the clerk of the Pavilion court an annual fee for allowing them to have a city attorney present at court sessions, in order to claim for the city court any cases over which the Pavilion judges were not supposed to exercise jurisdiction. Sensing the weakness of the fair, the citizens strove to offset its tyranny over them by obtaining in 1449 royal grant of their own fair around the festival of St. Swithun (July) – apparently reviving a lapsed event that the city authorities had been holding in the late thirteenth century, perhaps in the cathedral cemetery. The accomplishment made the city authorities more comfortable with reaching, in 1451, a settlement of long-standing disputes with the bishop over the St. Giles fair; this did not gain the citizens anything beyond a pardon for recent disturbances aimed at blocking episcopal operation of fair rights, but at least brought about a measure of peace between the parties.



"east hill"
St. Giles Hill rose just across the river, where lay a suburb known as the Soke (because an ancient liberty independently administered to the city); across the Soke Bridge, began the city's High Street.

"the festival"
Of St. Giles, celebrated September 1.

"William de Edyngton"
A Wiltshire man, he entered the service of a predecessor as Bishop of Winchester, Adam Orleton, and from 1335 acted as Master of the Hospital of St. Cross at Winchester, before becoming one of the king's leading and most capable administrators; he served successively as Keeper of the Wardrobe (1341-44), Treasurer (1344-56), and Chancellor (1356-63), and introduced reforms that facilitated Edward III's pursuit of the war in France. He gave up his mastership of the hospital after papal appointment (at Edward's request) to the Bishopric of Winchester in 1345, a candidate already elected by the monks being pushed aside. Although his royal offices prevented him from giving his full attention to episcopal duties, he initiated a major rebuilding project on the nave of the cathedral. His value to Edward is reflected in the king's preparedness to concede, once the proper process of legal enquiry had been undertaken, Edington's wishes as regards formalizing the details of the administration of the St. Giles fair. Edward was even prepared to promote Edington to the archbishopric of Canterbury in 1366, but the latter declined, for his health was failing and he had retired from royal service three years earlier. He died later that year.

A tent erected within the fair to serve as a temporary court and administrative centre. It stood beside the church.

"custody of our city"
That is, responsibility for maintaining the peace.

These same men had been issued, on June 20, 1349 with a commission of oyer and terminer, regarding a dispute between the bishop and the community of Winchester over jurisdiction in the former site, within the city, of the abbey of St. Peter, which the bishop claimed as a soke. The bishop complained that the mayor and others were trying to hold markets and fairs there and were obstructing use of a cemetery there (at a time of pestilence) by disturbing burials, offering violence to the monks, and building houses atop the cemetery.

"William de Shareshull"
One of the king's judges, serving various in the courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, as well as in the Exchequer, he would be appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1350, in which role he would be perhaps the architect of the Statute of Labourers, but certainly its promulgator and enforcer.

"William de Fifhide"
Besides holding several manors in Hampshire, he was the steward of Queen Philippa's lands south of the Trent. The queen had the lordship of the city of Winchester by grant of her husband.

"William de Overton"
An important land-owner in Hampshire, who had served as its sheriff in 1344.

Derived from 'dun', a Celtic term for a hill.

"South Gate, King's Gate"
These were the closest gates to the cathedral, both on the southern side of the city walls, King's Gate further east than South Gate (which was close to the south-west corner of the defences). The South Gate is first mentioned around mid-tenth century, but archaeology has shown that the line of the medieval defences followed the circuit of the Roman wall – in fact the Roman wall was still in good enough condition to be the basis of Late Saxon burh defences, and was still being kept in repair through the eleventh century – and that stone gates existed on each side in the third century A.D., although access to the southern gate was blocked in the seventh or eighth century and the medieval counterpart was inserted immediately west of it. The King's Gate is first heard of in a document of 1148, though this reflects older information and it is conceivable a gate existed at that point, or nearby, to give access to the royal palace and original minster of Middle Saxon Winchester, while the road running from it connected to the port and industrial centre of Hamwic, so that Saxon Winchester/Hamwic together formed the type of bifocal urban entity – one unit focused on administration, the other on commerce – seen elsewhere in Wessex. It may even be that this connection explains why the south gate was the first one whose custody was turned over to the fair wardens at the beginning of each event.

This title for a gate-keeper derives from the guardian character of the Roman god Janus, depicted with two faces, one keeping a lookout ahead and one behind.

"West Gate"
The West and East Gates lay at opposite ends of the High Street

Kitchin preferred to translate occurrences of mercator in the text as 'trader', and the author of the Latin text does indeed seem to use the term as a catch-all, even applying it to pedlars. While it is important to keep in mind that the term was not as restrictive as it later became, with that proviso in mind, I have no concern about using the term 'merchant' to help distinguish the character of fairs from that of markets.

"seven leagues"
Like many medieval measures, the league varied in length from place to place and era to era, usually between about 1.4 and 3 miles. Because Southampton was explicitly stated as being outside the seven leagues radius, it is likely that that distance was here equivalent to roughly ten or eleven miles.

"North Gate"
The medieval gate was likely on the site of its Roman predecessor. Just inside it was an open area which may have served as an early marketplace; though the main roads to Winchester converged on the east and west gates, the route through the Itchen valley arrived at the north gate.

"East Gate"
This was not on the site of its Roman forerunner, but had shifted position in coordination with a shift in the point at which the River Itchen (which connected to Southampton) was crossed. But it had assumed its medieval position by mid-tenth century.

"St. Mary's"
This abbey, also known as the Nunnaminster, is thought to have been founded by Ealhswith, widow of King Alfred, although the first buildings were not erected until after her death, by Edward the Elder. It stood just within the city, south of the High Street, near the East Gate. Endowment with certain of the tolls collected at the East Gate may have been part of efforts to revive its finances after the abbey fell on hard times after burning down in 1141.

"once there"
The city officials were no longer needed, as the transference of jurisdiction proceeded. The justices' purpose at this point was to convene the fair court in order to summons the bishop's tenants, who were the court's suitors.

"choose and appoint"
This gave the justices the option to put their own nominees into the city's executive offices. In practice they may often have left the existing incumbents in place, although they did on occasion substitute their own men (perhaps depending on their degree of confidence of cooperation from the existing office-holders, who were likely to resent the bishop taking over civic administration and revenues for over two weeks.

"cognizance of all pleas"
That is, civil pleas, conducted the common law during the first week of the fair, but according to merchant law during the remainder; the coroner would have preliminary dealings with some criminal matters. It seems that not only the city courts but all other courts within the prescribed radius were suspended and superseded by the court fair.

"the Soke"
A liberty (independent of any city jurisdiction, except for that of the coroners) that formed the eastern suburb of Winchester, lying between the Itchen and St. Giles Hill, along Cheesehill Street; it was reached from the city via the Soke Bridge. The hilltop site of the fair may not originally have been part of the Soke, but came to be regarded as such.

"those things"
It is not clear here whether this refers to an oath to do their duty as jurors, or an oath as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the facts on which the court wishes them to pronounce.

I.e. has paid the injured party any debt or damages, or otherwise made amends, and has paid whatever fine the court has imposed on him.

"at Southampton"
The reference to Southampton in this context, besides being the first indication it lay outside the seven-league radius, suggests one or more specific occurrences of Southampton men rescuing possessions distrained from a fellow citizen in the context of a case in the fair court.

This was in the south-eastern corner of the city, not far from Soke Bridge, where the bishop had his fortified palace, treasury, and evidently a gaol.

"performing suit"
Not only to acknowledge that they were answerable to the court's jurisdiction, but also to attend on their lord in this civil context (as if providing support in a military context) in order to be of assistance, if called upon, in roles such as consultants, jurors, or appraisers – or in regard to the fair, as guards. This was essentially a feudal service.

"house within the barriered area"
Over time the main site of the fair, atop St. Giles Hill, acquired structures that remained in place once the fair was over and had been, by the thirteenth century, superseded by permanent houses, storehouses, and shops ranged along a grid of streets (so that the fair could even, in 1287, be referred to as a 'new town'). These streets tended to be named – like stall-rows in larger markets – after the type of trader or commodity featured there, although other names reflected the geographical origins of the mercantile contingents that clustered there. The bishopric's Pipe Roll for 1210/11 shows that 2s. was the annual rent for a tenement plot on the hill; two carpenters (each holding two plots) and a fishmonger were then among the renters. Evidently some of these buildings were integrated into the enclosure – perhaps some kind of palisade – built around the fair site, giving the potential for the enclosure to be breached by passage through the houses.

Kitchin [p.72] suggested this a corruption of Dinant-batteurs; though Dinant-metteurs would have been more likely, what we have here is a misreading of Dynanntters, referring to the town of Dinant in the Meuse Valley, which acquired a reputation for, and prosperity from, its metal-working industry, whose high-quality products – mainly of beaten copper or brass and of cast bronze – were known as dinanderie. These included cooking-pots, ewers, aquamaniles, and elaborate altar furniture; they found a valuable export market in England. Dinant was treated there as a Hanseatic town and, in the context of political disturbances in the Low Countries, a number of Dinantais fled to London, where they would run afoul of the politics of the Wars of the Roses. Dinanderie remains an important industry in present-day Dinant and dinandier survives in Parisian French usage to refer to a cauldron-maker.

The six aldermen in charge of Winchester's wards (which were sub-divided into tithings) had constabulary authority therein (though lacked the formal judicial authority held by London's ward aldermen), and later the wards became commonly known as aldermanries. As such they were empowered to oblige peace-breakers to provide security that, if released from arrest, they would not offend again, and to report offences at the view of frankpledge. This authority was, however, limited to their wards and there were two officers formally known as constables whose responsibility for peace-keeping and security was city-wide but probably managerial, with the aldermen probably acting as their executives, while the aldermen were assisted in this (by the fifteenth century) by beadles.

Accusation brought by one specific private individual against another.

"indictment from facts"
Assertion by a public official, based on the evidence, that a crime has taken place, even though no specific criminal may yet have been identified (such applied to many of the cases investigated by coroners). The accuser in such cases is the monarch, acting on in the public interest.

A formal agreement settling a dispute between parties

In 1250 Henry III tried to force his half-brother, Aymer de Valence, one of his Lusignan kin, on the monks as their new bishop, but the prior complained to the Pope of Aymer's unsuitability and obtained a measure of support. After the Lusignan kin of the king were exiled (1258), Aymer put his own case before the Pope and obtained consecration as bishop, but died while returning to England. The dispute between the bishops and the community of Southampton was a long-standing one that came to a head in 1251, for in late September the king advised the sheriff of Hampshire that, although the burgesses of Southampton had been accustomed to sell at the fair, they had boycotted the fair just past, preferring to conduct trade in their home town; he ordered the sheriff to obtain compensation for the bishop-elect's loss of revenue [Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1247-58, p.109], for the burgesses had, it seems, intercepted cargoes being shipped to Southampton to be transported to the fair and required their owners, if not to sell them at Southampton, then at least to have them weighed (and perhaps customed) in Southampton. The composition forcing Southampton to return to suspending its commerce during the fair, but allowing retailing of victuals for household sustenance (a proviso that was probably ancient), was reached in 1254 [Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1226-1257, p.445]. The bishop's only real concession in the settlement was that if merchants bringing goods via Southampton swore that they had not been bound for the fair, they would not be compelled to go there, but still could not sell anything other than victuals within the fair district. In 1406, by which time the St. Giles fair's business was declining seriously and Southampton had acquired a fair of its own, the bishop agreed to accept an an annual payment from the burgesses in lieu of requiring them to attend the fair or suspend commerce in their town.

Of the named locations, Stockbridge lies north-west of the city, Kingsbridge west (if the bridge at King's Somborne), Crabwood probably west, Hursley and Romsey south-west, Otterbourne and Mansbridge south, Curbridge south-east, Alresford east, and all are within a ten-mile radius of Winchester. The area north of the city seems to have been of less concern, probably because of the drop-off in attendees from the Midlands and northern England; tolls collected at these check-points in 1292 suggest that most regional traders were coming from Southampton and Romsey [William Page, ed., Victoria History of the County of Hampshire, vol.5 (1912), p.41]. A fuller account of the fair's history than given here can be found in that volume, as well as in Derek Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985, vol.2ii, pp.1091-1120.

The Latin sufficientes likely here means those having the means to supply foodstuffs expected to meet the stated standards.

"intrusions into tenements"
Other forms of house-breaking than fresh force are probably intended, though the phrase might cover property trespass, as we would understand the term.

"court baron"
Every lord of a manor had the right to hold such a court dealing with matters of the manor and his tenants therein.

Here meaning territory under royal jurisdiction; the royal verge was an area within a radius of twelve leagues of the king's person (wherever he might be at any given time), and technically under administration of his Steward of the Household.

By comparing them to official standards.

"may enter"
The 1303 enquiry into fair customs indicated that exceptions might be made if merchants could show they had been delayed by a storm at sea or some misfortune encountered on land.

New wine adulterated with old, or a good wine adulterated with one of less quality.

"High Street"
summo vico ejusdem Civitatis is not the most common Latin usage for a city's High Street, though that is a plausible translation. Kitchin thought it meant 'at the top end of the street', but assumed the street in question was the High Street, and that the far end meant the West Gate (that is, the end farthest from the fair site). However, it seems unlikely to me that, at this date, the name of the street, in a city as large as Winchester, would not be specified.

"whole wax"
That is, as moulded, rather than broken up into fragments.

"the weigher"
Use of the generic may be to refer to both the pesager and tronager, and the twopence was presumably their fee.

Panels of fencing, made by inter-weaving slender rods of willow or hazel.

A cloth-worker of some kind, probably operating at the lower levels of the cloth industry, though possibly a term applied at Winchester to weavers in general. Fifteenth-century ordinances from Winchester make reference to such as involved in the making of burel and chalouns (blankets); they may also have produced worsteds. The occupation appears the same as that of tapiter or tapicer. They seem to have produced cheaper cloths, or relatively small, finished items of cloth for household use (rather than apparel), perhaps including tablecloths; on the other hand, they may have been a type of chaloner weaving heavy blankets or quilts. They would have found the fair a useful outlet for products they had not been able to sell locally, or perhaps produced specifically for the fair's clientele. The penny licence fee suggests their craft did not earn them much income, though if they also produced tapestries, there could have been a higher-end to the occupational group.

"from a tanner"
This item is problematic. De quolibet tannatore might mean (as Kitchin thought) that 4d. had to be paid for the services of a tanner, yet it seems unlikely the fair would engage tanners to perform their noxious tasks on-site. More likely that, in the context of suspension of industrial activities during the fair, tanners would continue to be allowed to operate their High Street stalls and charge for a service to fair purchasers of untreated leather, in return for a licence fee. On the other hand, the context of this item in the list might just mean that 4d. was the toll payable on a tanned hide. There is some indication that, in the late thirteenth century at least, the fair may have either engaged certain artisans as on-site service providers – services such as repair or replacement of saddles, stirrups. and cart-wheels, or the carding of raw wool – or at least designated them, for a fee, as official suppliers of services.

Denial of most claims to exemption from toll might be an indication of the age of the fair, or may have been a special privilege obtained from the king, necessitated by progressive loss of revenues due to the proliferation of exemptions – only the king being in a position to suspend exemptions he had granted. The exclusions from the suspension are not difficult to understand, and those for Winchester and London are recorded also in the 1303 enquiry. Winchester's traders needed to be compensated for the severe disruption the fair caused to their commerce. Those of London were too important a clientele to warrant alienating the remaining Londoners who still frequented the fair, and the assurance of exemption may have been hoped to attract them back in the numbers that had once attended; although an exemption agreement between London and Winchester had been in place for some decades, this cannot have applied to the fair, but the bishops may have felt it advisable to honour the spirit of it, though not compelled to extend exemptions more broadly. The Honour of Wallingford was a large estate in the region, held of and sometimes directly by, the king, primarily (but not exclusively) in Berkshire, a county where the king was the major landlord, and based around a royal borough of much greater importance, at the time of Domesday and earlier, than it is today (or indeed was by 1349). The borough, located near an important road south connecting it to Winchester and Southampton, and likely the source of another important clientele (and also past rivalry) for trade with Winchester men, was one of the earliest recipients of a royal charter by which the usually tight-fisted (but in Wallingford's case highly grateful) Henry II granted ample commercial and other liberties, including toll exemption. Furthermore, many of the king's tenants-in-chief had held burgage properties in Wallingford that would have enabled them to benefit, through mercantile agents, from the exemption. However, the Wallingford exemption does not appear to have existed at the time of the 1303 enquiry.

Not Bishop John de Stratford (1323-33), as Kitchin thought, but John Sandale, bishop 1316-19, who served Edward I as Warden of the Mint and Edward II as Treasurer and Chancellor. This extension to the fair was granted in 1317 [Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1300-1326, p.359], although extensions beyond the sixteen days had been used on occasion, by special but temporary grants, during the previous two reigns.

"commercial centre"
Not that Winchester ever had the kind of commercial pre-eminence that London acquired. Although its commerce benefited greatly from the role of Winchester as a key administrative and ecclesiastical centre of Late Saxon England, it does not appear to have been commercially precocious. Its merchant gild, for instance, is first referenced in a charter of Henry II, which (plausibly) claims it had existed in the time of Henry I, but a tradition that it had been created by King Ethelwulf is unsupported and the cnihts gild cannot be shown to have been a mercantile association.

As early as 1292 the bishop seems to have restricted his profit-taking to the main sixteen-day period of the fair, after which the fair was said to be in the king's hand, but this was not a consistent practice, for there was a tendency among some merchants to come late to the fair and try to continue their trading activities in the days following the fair's termination, to the annoyance of the bishop, who was thus deprived of tolls and other fees; in 1233 the king, probably at episcopal request, ordered the officials in charge of the late July fair at Lynn to have public proclamation made advising all merchants planning to attend the Winchester event to arrive prior to the Nativity of the Blessed Mary, or they would not be allowed to participate without paying a surcharge; this was backed up, in August, by orders to the sheriff of Hampshire to issue a proclamation prohibiting merchants from selling wool, cloth, or hides at Winchester after the closing date of the fair. The effort to combat the problem concluded with a last-minute extension granted the fair, so that late-comers would still be caught within the its official duration. A complaint about such ad hoc extensions at Winchester and other fairs was made to one of the parliaments of Edward III's reign.

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Created: March 20, 2016. Last update: April 25, 2016 © Stephen Alsford, 2016