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August 18.

St. Helen, Empress, A. D. 328. St. Agapetus, A. D. 275. St. Clare of Monte Falco, A. D. 1308.

For the Every-Day Book.

AUGUST 18 TO 23.

"Rare doings at Camberwell."—"All holiday at Peckham."

I do not know Mr. Capper's authority for saying in his "Topographical Dictionary," that the fair, held at Camberwell from time immemorial, is suppressed.

Although much has been done towards accomplishing this end, it does not seem likely to prevail. It commenced formerly on the 9th of August, and continued three weeks, ending on St. Giles-day. Booths were erected in the churchyard, for the sale of "good drinke, pies, and pedlerie trash:" but these doings were suppressed by a clause, in the statute of Winchester, passed in the 13th of Edward I., which enacts "que feire, ne marche desoremes ne soient tenuz en cimet pur honur di Seinte Eglise." In the evidence adduced before a petty session at Union-hall, on the subject of putting down the fair on the 4th of July, 1823, it is said that "Domesday Book" speaks of the custom of holding it. I cannot find that this statement rests on good grounds, but something like it seems to have obtained as early as 1279, for in that year Gilbert de Clare was summoned before John of Ryegate and his fellow justices at Guildford, to show by what right he claimed the privilege of holding the assize of ale and bread in "his Vill. of Cam'well."* [1] Mention is made in the following reign of "eme'das in Stoke et Pecham." Camberwell fair was held "opposite the Cock public-house" till the Green was broken in upon.

Peckham is said to be only a continuation of Camberwell, and not a district fair, though there is a tradition that king John hunting there killed a stag, and was so well pleased with his day's sport, that he granted the inhabitants a charter for it. It may be inferred from the "right merrie" humour of this monarch at the close of his sport, that it was somewhat in different style to that of Henry the Fifth: for he, "in his beginning thought it meere scofferie to pursue anie fallow deere with hounds or greihounds, but supposed himselfe always to have done a sufficient act when he had tired them by his own travell on foot."† [2]



African Marigold. Tagites erecta.
Dedicated to St. Helen.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Placitu de Quo Warranto 7 Ed. I. Abuses of the laws regulating these assizes were in no respect uncommon. Few were "Anie what looked unto but ech one suffered to sell and set up what and how himself listeth." And such "headie ale and beer" were vended, that the people stood peculiarly open to imposition. "They will drinke" says Hollingshed, (i. 202.) till they be red as cocks, and little wiser than their combes." [return]

2. Hollingshed i. 226. [return]