All the fun of the fair at Lamberts Castle

An excerpt from the 1845 Lamberts Castle Fair poster

For over 250 years, this ancient hill fort was also host to a marvelous annual fair. Alongside the stalls and farming attractions that you might expect at a country fair, the highlight of the event was a series of horse races.

There are records of a fair taking place at Lamberts Castle as far back as 1709, although there are actually some reports that indicate that the fair may have been held here as far back as 1459. They continued until a least 1947 and possibly until 1956, when National Trust took ownership of the site. 

The fair was normally held in June but in some years when its popularity was at its peak, there was a second fair held in September. It seemed to run most years, although there were notable absences during both the First and Second World Wars and, typically for Britain, it was also sometimes 'rained off'.

Local records, primarily from the archives of Bridport News, tell us that the fair steadily grew in size and what had begun as a simple horse race, ended up with a silver cup, grandstands, refreshments supplied by the local inns, and fairground games like a coconut shy.

The main event races at the 1845 Fair
Poster details of the races at the 1845 fair
The main event races at the 1845 Fair

The arrival of cars helped to boost visitor numbers, making the site a lot more accessible for visitors and specifically families.

Although, sadly, there is no real evidence of this exciting history here now, as a visitor you can tell that the fair would have been a real spectacle to behold. Those who were lucky enough to have visited would have enjoyed the spectacular views across the Marshwood Vale out to sea that we can all enjoy today.

With thanks to Adrian and Kathy Parkes for their research.