The Mop Fair
.....the original Charter granted by Edward VI on 28 June 1553; the Charter granted by James I on 23 July 1611; and the Charter from Charles II dated 31 August 1676. The latter provides that MOPS or fairs should be held “...within and through all places Streets Lanes Alleys and Fields in the said Borough (Stratford upon Avon)"
11 October, Charity Mop
12 October, Main Mop
24 and 25 October , Runaway Mop
History of Mop Fairs
Farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of the employment they would attend the Mop Fair dressed in their Sunday best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head – hence the phrase Mop Fair.
Employers would move amongst them discussing experience and terms, once agreement was reached the employer would give the employee a small token of money and the employee would remove the item signifying their trade and wear bright ribbons to indicate they had been hired. They would then spend the token amongst the stalls set-up at the fair which would be selling food and drink and offering games to play. Stratford Mop has an associated 'runaway mop' one week later. The tradition of this is from the need for employers to reconsider and re-hire any staff before committing to a full years work.
Mops usually last for 2 days and take over the centre of the town, and in recent times the Mops have become little more than a funfair.