History

The Fair at Weyhill dates back to the 13th century when it served the needs of farmers, landowners and local people. Everything from a thimble to a traction engine was on sale here, in addition to its main trade in sheep; it was the biggest sheep fair in the land and stands at the junction of the main drovers’ routes.

The one-acre site which is now the Craft Centre was called Blissimore Acre and was the area of the fair where hops were sold.  Booths – open fronted stalls with chalk walls and slated roofs – were arranged around the perimeter of the site for traders and buyers to agree their terms within the confines of the cob walls.

Thomas Hardy used the Fairground as the setting for his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge: the fair at Weyhill was the location where, as Weydon Priors, the drunken Michael Henchard notoriously sold his wife and child to a sailor.

By 1950 the Fair had greatly reduced in size and finally ceased completely in 1959.  For some years the site was used for agricultural machinery and pig rearing,  before falling into disuse in the 1980s after which it steadily deteriorated.

Latterly, thanks to the drive of the parish council at Penton Grafton, the Fairground site has been imaginatively restored and redeveloped. The appearance of the area today reflects a programme of careful restoration and a fresh vitality now abounds at The Fairground with the injection of new enthusiasm and determination. 

Nowadays, a variety of high quality craft studios, a superb gallery, an excellent tea room, chocolatière and florist, not forgetting the well equipped community hall, all work wonderfully well together to create this vibrant centre of craft and design.

Come and visit the Fairground Craft and Design Centre for yourself – a warm welcome awaits. Examine the history of the Fairground as shown on the unique and exclusive storyboards on the walls outside the studios, as depicted in the pictures above.


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