W.I. Newsletter August 2017

Flushed with the success of our Centenary Tea Party we gathered back in the Village Hall later in July for our monthly meeting.  Our President gave us all a pat on the back for such a successful event and read extracts from the congratulatory thank you letters received from attendees. 

Kate also reflected on some of our other activities in what had been a busy month for our members including visiting a quirky garden at Ashe Park near Overton – this was organised by Carol Pratt who is a co-ordinator for the National Garden Scheme in the area.  It was one of those rare warm summer evenings, quite glorious.

Our speaker in July was Anthony Raper, who is a member of Andover Archaeological and History Society and author of several local history publications, and he had been invited to tell us about the long history of The Weyhill Fair.

The origins of this annual event can be traced back to 1225 and the site of the Fair was probably influenced by the intersection of two ancient roadways; the Harrow Way, on an east -west axis, and the Gold Road running south/north.

It was primarily a Sheep Fair with 500,000 sheep per day being traded in the 1600s and the animals being driven from as far as Birmingham and Cornwall.  Cattle, horses, cheese and hops were also traded as well as all the associated tools and equipment and, of course, the food and drink stalls.  A Mop Fair or Hiring Fair also took place where itinerant labourers such as shepherds, herdsmen, carriers, etc would present themselves for hire.  The Pleasure Fair also proved entertainment with Gallopers and stalls selling souvenirs – some of which can be seen in Andover Museum.

In 1882 Weyhill rail station opened and livestock began to be transported by train, however, the decline of the Fair was beginning.  In 1914 the turnover of livestock was substantially reduced, as shown by a poster advertising 1200 sheep and 250 cattle for sale, and horses were being taken for use in WWI.  1919 saw the start of the sale of Fairground land.  In 1928 the bartering style of sale was changed to an auction format and despite the introduction of a Spring Fair in April and a Summer Fair in July, in the 1930s, the Fair finally closed in 1957. Attempts at a revival occurred in 1959 and 1960, but both ended in failure.

If you would like to read more about the history of The Weyhill Fair then Tony has written another book on the subject which will be available later this year.

Whilst there is no meeting in August, members have still been getting together at all the various groups and clubs.  The walkers rambled around Sutton Scotney, the reading group met to discuss their latest selection, breakfast was eaten at Leckford Nurseries and the Supper Club indulged at The Boot in Houghton.  The skittles team were in action, whilst they didn’t disgrace themselves, they will not be progressing further in this year’s competition.

Members are now busy preparing for the Village Fete on 2nd September – remember to visit the W.I. refreshments.

Our next meeting is on 28th September and Fiona Caruana will be inviting our members to participate in some Zumba.  Sounds energetic!  Please come along for a fun evening in the Village Hall for a 7.30 p.m. start.


Diary Dates:

02 September – Abbotts Ann Village Fete (W.I. Refreshments)

07 September – Supper Club

09 September – Walking Group

12 September – Reading Group

28 September – Monthly Meeting – 7.30 p.m. Village Hall : Zumba with Fiona Caruana