St James Fair 2004 - A Piece of History
St James' Fair
This year, for almost the first time in living memory, the Kelso Laddie and the Jethart Callant will play a leading role in St James' Fair on 4th and 5th September 2004.
Originally held in August each year, near the site of the Church of St James in the old Royal Burgh of Roxburgh, this revival of the old custom is the result of work done by Kelso Chamber of Trade and other local organisations.
Access to the old Fair on the Haugh across from Floors Castle was by a stone bridge which, in later years, after its collapse, was replaced by a temporary bridge each year.
The Fair was certainly happening in the 13th century, when it was probably started as a wool fair, at which English merchants could sell their fleeces under the walls of Roxburgh Castle, safe in the knowledge that their army would protect them. (Roxburgh castle was in English hands at this time.)
It was certainly a Royal Fair, perhaps one of the most important in the land, as even after the demise of the Royal Burgh of Roxburgh, it still had to be the Provost of a Royal Burgh – Jedburgh, who 'cried the Fair' by ringing a bell, not the provost of the non-royal Burgh of Kelso.
The last of the ancient fairs at Roxburgh was held in the 1930's, by which time it had become a fair for the sale of horses and ponies carried on by the gypsies, much as they still do at St Boswells Fair.
For more information about the Gypsies
This year, then, sees the renewal of an event stretching back 800 years, different in form and content, but still an opportunity to come, see, take part and enjoy.