ALL school children will have the rare opportunity to see the official opening of the annual mop fair in Stratford-upon-Avon town centre, on Saturday morning.
Each year young representatives from schools in the town attend the fair, and sometimes schools arrange to close for a training day on mop day, but this year the mop falls on a Saturday, giving all children a chance to attend the opening ceremony by Stratford District Council chairman Cllr Chris Mills at 11am.
The mop has an historic tradition. The original Charter was granted by King Edward VI on 28th June 1544 and its part of what makes Stratford unique.
Stratford Mop Fair has its origins in hiring agricultural and domestic labour, set out during the reign of King Edward III. The date is set for 12th October and is only moved if the 12th October falls on a Sunday.
In the past, farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for an employer from October to October. At the end of the employment they would attend the annual mop fair dressed in their best clothes and carrying an item showing their trade.
For example, a servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head, which lead to the name ‘mop fair.’ Once an agreement was reached, an employer would give an employee a small token of money which he could then spend amongst the stalls.
Stratford mop has an associated ‘runaway mop’ just over a week later. Traditionally this is from the need for employers to reconsider and re-hire any staff before committing to a full year’s work.
The charity mop will be held tomorrow (Friday) from 4pm until 11pm. The main mop on Saturday opens at 11am and runs to midnight.
To accommodate the mop, the following streets in Stratford will be closed from 5am on Friday until 6am on Sunday; Greenhill Street, Rother Street (from Ely Street), Wood Street, Union Street, Bridge Street, Windsor Street (from Mansell Street), Meer Street, Henley Street and High Street.
The runaway mop will be held on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th October. The following streets will be closed from 5am on Thursday 24th October until 6am on Saturday 26th October; Greenhill Street, Rother Street (from Ely Street), Wood Street, Windsor Street (from Mansell Street) and Meer Street.
The Henley mop fair takes place today (Thursday) having been opened by the high bailiff at 5pm yesterday (Wednesday).
Mop history-lovers can see footage of the 1914 Stratford mop on Youtube here.
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