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Lammas ceremony goes online due to unfortunate clash of events

Published: 3 July 2024

Lammas ceremony goes online due to unfortunate clash of events Lammas Fair

Exeter’s big white glove will not be hoisted above the city this year due to the Lammas Fair clashing with the General Election.

Instead, the age-old ceremony is being held virtually, with the recording of the proclamation being made available for people to see online.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Kevin Mitchell, said: “Due to this event (the General Election), we have taken the very hard decision to cancel this year’s ceremony. However the craft fair will still continue on the Cathedral Green and I will have the great pleasure of opening the craft fair on that day.”   

The wonderfully quirky tradition of parading a big white glove through city centre streets always takes place on the same Thursday in early July ahead of the Exeter Craft Festival on the Cathedral Green.

Unfortunately, the government called a General Election on the same date as Exeter Lammas Fair was due to take place.

Now the ceremony will be available online for people to see, with Cllr Mitchell reading the original proclamation of the white glove and Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Paul Knott, explaining the history of the Lammas Fair. 

Normally the big white glove is parading on a long pole through the city centre, with a civic procession. Normally the procession travels down the High Street to the Guildhall, where the proclamation is read out and the glove hoisted above the balcony.

The annual ceremony of the Proclamation of Lammas Fair dates back to before the Norman Conquest, more than 900 years ago. 

The word Lammas derives from the Anglo-Saxon Hlafmaesse or Loaf Mass. Lammas Day, the festival of St Peter ad Vincula, was when the first fruits of the harvest were offered to the Church in the form of a loaf.

The franchise of a fair was a very valuable possession, giving exclusive right to tolls on all articles sold. The fair generally lasted for three days.

The Lammas Fair White Glove was displayed during the Fair and was a sign of Royal protection of the peace. The large leather, stuffed glove was attached to a long pole and was decorated with ribbons and a garland of flowers. Prior to the hoisting of the Glove, a Proclamation was made to declare the Fair open. The Proclamation was issued at the time of Edward III in 1330.

A Court known as the "Pie Powder Court" was appointed for every fair to deal with any complaint or other matter arising within the Fair.

Many towns in England still retain their ancient fairs but in most places the reading of the Proclamation and the hoisting of the Glove have been abandoned. Some of the fairs have survived chiefly as pleasure fairs, but most of them are purely agricultural.

During the 1860s, the last stalls disappeared from Exeter but the city was keen to uphold its ancient customs and has continued to proclaim the Fair and hoist the Glove as it has done for nine centuries.

People can watch the online proclamation and a potted history of the event online on the Lord Mayor of Exeter Facebook page:

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