Chilmark villagers step back in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first recorded Chilmark Fayre on Saturday, July 20 at Fairmead, the original site of the fair in 1619.
Descendants of some of the 17th century Chilmark families, the Mayhews and the Maceys, are expected to travel from all parts of the UK to join in the festivities.
Primarily a sheep fair in the 17th century, the original event may have been attended by Thomas Mayhew, who went on to buy and establish Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Representatives of the Macey family were probably there too, in the days before some of its members set sail for the New World and subsequently set up Macy’s department store in New York.
Many villagers are preparing to dress up in period costume with an Historical Fancy Dress competition for children. Stalls and activities will reflect the produce and interests of 17th century rural England.
Historically, the fair was always on July 20 to celebrate the feast day of St Margaret of Antioch, the patron saint of Chilmark Church, which is on land adjoining the Fairmead.
To mark the occasion, the church hosts a performance of 17th century music and a talk by historian David Childs, alongside a 17th century-style Flower Festival, an exhibition of local archaeological finds, and a chance to try bell ringing.
The fayre on the Fairmead, opposite The Black Dog, starts at 12 noon, with a BBQ all afternoon, a bar serving Donhead Cider, Keystone Ale and wine, a Pimms & Prosecco bar, and tea tent.
Chilmark’s annual Horticultural Show is part of the event. Also planned is a dog show, children’s races, tug war, face painting, and numerous stalls, including the Truckle Truck Cheese van from Dorset, and a stall selling commemorative items and Chilmark crafts made specially to mark the event.
The Fayre organisers received grants from South West Wilts Area Board and Chilmark Parish Council to support the special 400th anniversary and its historical context.
And 400 years on from the original recorded event, the village show is for visitors from near and far to enjoy a family day out celebrated in 17th century style.