9 December 2008
By Karolina Zagrodna
CAMBERWELL GREEN has not always been up and coming, in fact at one point it was so wholly desirable that it even had its own fabulous fair. It was such an event that now the area has been nominated to receive a blue plaque to commemorate it.
Camberwell Green used to be famous for its big fair, which ran annually from 1279 until 1855, when it was abolished by the local authorities.
In those times the annual fair was a host of events, lasting for three days in August.
Held within "The God's Acre', it was the biggest treat of the year for all the local people, from the richest to the poorest of residents and passing holidaymakers.
Originally, the fair was designed as a place for merchants and farmers to trade their goods. However, in later centuries the event would boast theatre, sporting events, a zoo featuring wild lions, tigers, elephants and other beasts, fairground rides and many more attractions.
Inevitably, it also became an excuse for long drinking sessions. This was one reason why many people living in the neighbourhood started complaining about the noise and loud behaviour of the guests attending the fair. On the May 8, 1823, enquiries about stopping the event had begun.
In 1827 a meeting of local magistrates took place, where it was decided, that there wass not much reason for the continuance of the fair and it was accordingly declared unlawful. Despite that decision, Camberwell Fair survived and was still allowed to bring annual annoyance to the district for many more years to follow. Eventually, in August 1855, it came to the end.
As William Blanch recalls in his book "The Parish of Camberwell", 'the green was encumbered for the last time with its horde of nomadic thieves; its coarse men and lewd women and its concentrated essence of vice, folly and buffoonery was no longer allowed to contaminate the youth of the district and annoy the more staid and respectable residents.' After the abolishment of the fair, green land has been handed over to the parish, to be looked after and to keep it in a decent condition.
In total there are 25 candidates nominated in 2008 for a blue plaque, with at least one from each community council area in Southwark. Voting will be open until March 31.
If you wish to vote for Camberwell Green to win this year's Blue Plaque, please call 020 7252 2000 or e-mail email@example.com, before the 31 of March next year.
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