Above Bar Fair (or St Mark’s Fair) was traditionally held in Above Bar Street for three days in April each year. By the 19th century, however, it appears to have been held on the 6th and 7th of May. The stalls sometimes spilled over into the park on the east side of the street (later named Palmerston Park) which in consequence was sometimes called the Fair Ground. The fair dated back to at least 1600 in which year Queen Elizabeth granted the town the right to hold three fairs, one of which was St Mark’s. By the mid 19th century the other two ancient fairs had disappeared and St Mark’s together with the larger Trinity Fair were the only two surviving fairs in the town. There were increasing numbers of complaints about Above Bar Fair, partly because it was seen as an obstruction to one of the town’s main thoroughfares and partly because it was increasingly being seen as a nuisance. In 1859 the town council issued notices that henceforth it would be removed from the town centre to the recreation area on the Marsh. However, it appears that the fair continued to be held in the Above Bar area; contemporary newspaper reports describe it taking place either on the Fair Ground or at the West Marlands until c.1875.

Further reading:

History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p428-429. (HS/h)
History of Southampton, Volume 1, by A. Temple Patterson, p112. (HS/h)
History of Southampton, Volume 2, by A. Temple Patterson, p136. (HS/h)
History of Southampton, Volume 3, by A. Temple Patterson, p30. (HS/h)
Picture of Southampton (1849), by Philip Brannon, p68 (HS/h)


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