Cambridge and Stourbridge Fair
Author: Honor Ridout (Newnham 1967)
Publisher: Blue Ocean Publishing
For hundreds of years, Stourbridge Fair was the biggest fair in England and a high point of the Cambridge year.
Held on the edge of the Town fields, by the little Leper Chapel on the Newmarket Road, it attracted producers and customers from the North and from London as well as the Midlands and East Anglia. Vast quantities of wool and cloth, hops and cheese were bought and sold, alongside arrays of practical and luxury manufactures. Isaac Newton came, and found his glass prism and a book on astronomy. Defoe described it in detail. Thomas Grey was sarcastic about the exotic and deformed animals on display. The University held court there, to check weights, measures and the entertainments and to indulge periodic spats with the town authorities about their respective jurisdictions. Changing times saw its decline in the nineteenth century and closure in the twentieth.