Goldsithney Charter Fair Cornwall

Goldsithney Charter Fayre - The Folklore behind the fare

Every part of Cornwall seems to have a legend or a piece of folklore attached to it.  In the beautiful village of Goldsithney near St Michael Mount, you do not have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find this recollection the Goldsithney Fair and Glove.

This following article is taken from the Cornish Folklore classic 'Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt'

ON the 5th of August, St James's day (old style), a fayre is held here, which was originally held in the Church-town of Sithney near Helston. In olden time, the good St Perran the Little gave to the wrestlers in his parish a glove as the prize, and the winner of the glove was permitted to collect the market toll on the day of the feast, and to appropriate the money to his own use. 

The winner of the glove lived in the Church-town of Sithney, and for long long years the right of holding the fair remained undisputed. At length the miners of Goldsithney resolved to contest the prize, and they won it, since which time the fair has been held in that village, they paying to the poor of the parish of Sithney one shilling as compensation. Gilbert remarks, The displaying of a glove at fairs is an ancient and widely-extended custom. Mr Lysons says it is continued at Chester. The editor has seen a large ornamented glove over the guildhall at Exeter during the fairs."

 

THE RED GLOVE

In earlier times gloves were symbols of status and power worn by the ruling class. They played a symbolic role in ceremonial such as the investiture of a knight or as in our case the opening of a fair.
Many old fairs employed the raising of a glove as it represented authority and indicated that the rule of law applied at the Fair. When the glove was visible trading could take place. Its removal indicated that the fair was over.

Our glove is by tradition red and was according to legend won by Goldsithney miners at the old Sithney fair. They brought it home conferring on Goldsithney the right to have its own fair, although it was probably more of a merger. It is depicted in the Trevelyan coat of arms that can be seen on the Trevelyan Arms pub sign.

This story is what inspired Sue Aston to write ‘The Dance of the Red Glove’ which is our very own music. You can hear it on this website.

 

THE NOBBLED HORSE
Recounted at Marazion Memories
During the First World War (1914-1918) there was a need for horses to serve at the Front. Local farmers were therefore instructed to bring their horses to Charter Fair so the officers could choose one each and the farmers be recompensed. The horses were lined up for inspection – but one looked very strange, indeed it couldn’t even keep its head up. All the horses were chosen for military service save this one which was taken home where it made a remarkable recovery and lived out its days in peace.
Was it nobbled? – perish the thought!

 


 

Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt

 

Taken from Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt

March 1881 [a] vol. iii. p. 309 By Robert Hunt