Photographer's Note

This photo was taken in the little village of Downton in Wiltshire. There are some odd customs still going on in Wiltshire villages but none so odd as Downton's celebrations to herald the arrival of Spring, the fair is held on the first Saturday in May.

The Downton Cuckoo Fair is the ideal one day family event, held on the greens in the picturesque village of Downton, six miles south of Salisbury, there is a lot going on during the day with over 250 craft and other interesting stalls (some in marquees); rural craft demonstrations; maypole; morris dancing; street entertainment; music; there is also Punch and Judy, clowns, bouncy castle and roundabouts. Each year they crown a new fair Queen.

Traditionally the arrival of the cuckoo was seen as the onset of good weather and the Downton tradition of "opening the gate" to let the cuckoo through is the basis of the fair.
I can only find this below about the fairs hostory,
Factually the Downton fairs are first recorded in 1249 and in 1289 a fair was claimed on the eve, day and morrow of St. Laurence (9th-11th April). Early fairs died out and in 1676 two annual fairs were granted on 12th April and 21st September. When the term Cuckoo Fair came to be used seems to be unknown, as is any possible links with pagan festivities. The Cuckoo Princess only dates from the revival of the fair in 1980 but there may have been an earlier Cuckoo King.
There is no record of a fair being held since the Great War 1914-1918 until revived in 1980.

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Additional Photos by Wilson Beckett (jaywalker) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3111 W: 140 N: 3130] (16105)
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