A website for Cloth Fair, Bartholomew Fair and The City Courant

A new website Clothfair.city tells the story of how a Fair started in 1133 to support Barts church and hospital, but closed in 1855, was relaunched this week both locally and City-wide. The site features articles from a souvenir edition of The City Courant.

As I’ve already written, the City Corporation picked up Councillor Matthew Bell’s idea of re-staging Bartholomew Fair and has turned it into a £1.3 million Spectacular which starts this week.

Since supporting Matthew with an article in the EC1 Echo last year I’ve gathered a lot of information about the history of the Fair, including its start in 1133 in Cloth Fair. Matthew lives there in the oldest inhabited house in the City, and I live around the corner next to the City’s oldest church St Bartholomew the Great.

Matthew and other local councillors and residents have developed a programme to complement the Spectacular, starting with a traditional ceremony tomorrow in which the Lord Mayor cuts a ribbon designed by Damien Hirst outside St Bartholomew’s Gatehouse (below). You can see the artist’s Exquisite Pain statute of St Bartholomew in the church. The ribbon will later be auctioned for charity.

Bartholomew Fair will launch on Thursday with an aerial ballet performed on St Paul’s Cathedral.

I’ve created a website about the history of the Fair, and it’s re-staging, at Clothfair.city. You can find more about the ribbon-cutting, and a Great Disputation in the church, in this press release from the Cloth Fair group.

The Cloth Fair programme in September includes talks on William Blake, the Cries of London, 41-42 Cloth Fair, and appropriately enough a Reinvented Clothing Popup Shop. The Bartholomew Fair programme is here.

I’m delighted that I have have been able to include on the site the contents of The City Courant Bartholomew Fair Souvenir Edition thanks to executive editor John Foley and founder and editor Jeannine Saba. The publication has some financial support from the Corporation’s Destination City programme, of which Bartholomew Fair is the highlight.

You can see that I have experimented with embedding Courant pages on the site and adding addition links underneath. I think that this works well when combined with engaging text and terrific illustration. Without the The City Courant the site would be rather flat.

The initial plans for re-staging the Fair included ideas about additional wayfinding, which I thought could bring benefits for City residents and workers as well as visitors. That project didn’t materialise but I hope it might in time for next year’s Fair. In order to spark some ideas, I’ve pulled together information on self-guided walks, and have done an unofficial map of the Fair with information sheets. More in the Explore section.

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