Rothwell Proclamation – 27th May 2013
Between the hours of 6 and 7am on the Proclamation day the inhabitants of the usually sleepy town of Rothwell (Rowell) come out in force for a pub crawl fuelled by 800 years of history. The Proclamation of the fair is something that has happened every year on the Monday after Trinity Sunday, for the past few years the Proclamation has fallen on a Bank Holiday too, which makes the festivities even more spectacular.
In 1204 King John issued a royal charter which granted the town of Rothwell a weekly market and an annual fair, back in the day the fair was a horse fair and market which was quite reputable and people came from far and wide to sell their goods on. Nowadays it’s a fun fair that lasts a week and takes place in the market square in the centre of town.
The proclamation of the fair takes place on the first Monday of the fair, and it begins at 6am outside the church. At the stroke of 6, the bailiff of the Lord of the Manor reads out the charter whilst on horseback, the bailiff is guarded by halberdiers and the Rowell Fair Society Band. Once the charter has been read the band plays the national anthem and the crowd of merrymakers cheer “God Save the Queen and the Lord of the Manor”, the procession then moves on to it’s next destination; the charter is read at 10 locations around the small town of Rothwell. Each location is either a pub that is currently open or one that was once open, except for the first reading which is always at the church. After the charter has been read at each of it’s destinations the landlord of the pub offers the bailiff and his halberdiers an alcoholic drink, the traditional drink of Rowell Fair is Rum and Milk (yum…). Once the bailiff has drunk his drink he moves along to the next place, in his wake their is another tradition, the local youth try to disarm the halberdiers (they’re the ones carrying the blue poles with the sharp bits on top in the pics!) by having a scuffle in the street with the crowd cheering them on, this goes on for only a couple of minutes before the police blow a whistle and everyone continues to the next pub for the reading of the charter. This is the reason why a lot of young lads go to the proclamation, the combination of lots of alcohol and bravado means that everyone gets involved! This is repeated at all the pubs in town and the entire proclamation lasts about an hour and a half, the pubs open at 6am and stay open all day and it’s tradition to go and have a Rowell Fair breakfast after the proclamation has finished – nearly all of the pubs offer this and there is quite the decision to be made!
Everyone then generally continues drinking for most of the day and the pubs have entertainment and food on. It really is a lovely day where the entire community of Rothwell comes together to have a day of fun which has happened for hundreds of years, I know most people join in for the alcohol but I really enjoy being a part of something historical and traditional. It makes me feel happy to be a ‘local’ and even when I move away from Rothwell I can see myself returning for the Proclamation each year – it’s something I’ve done since I was a little girl, I’m not gonna stop now!
Does your town have any traditions?