Nostalgia: They’ve been holding fairs in Rainham for more than 700 years
11:50 24 April 2013
On Monday May 6 Rainham Association for Village Events (RAVE) will hold its annual Rainham Village May Fayre.
Over 700 years ago in 1270 Robert Waleraund (died 1273) was granted permission to hold a weekly market and an annual fair at South Hall Manor to the south east of Rainham near where Chafford School is now.
South Hall was one of four manors in Rainham recorded in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of 1086.
Waleraund was a powerful figure in the government of King Henry III (1207-1272), credited both with precipitating Simon de Montfort’s revolt of the nobility in 1264 and masterminding the subsequent recovery of royal power, transferring land to the king’s supporters from his opponents after the Battle of Evesham in 1265.
The previous owner of South Hall, Henry de Cramavill, may have supported de Montfort. Waleraund began treating it as his own from 1267.
Markets and fairs were an effective way of gaining popular support and raising revenue for the crown in the thirteenth century, boosting local trade and raising funds for the crown from fees.
The number of places granted a market or fair in England rose from 377 to 1687 between 1200 and 1300, including Grays in 1221, Romford 1247, Aveley 1248 and South Ockendon in 1254. A market was first recorded in Barking in 1219.
Waleraund seems to have been a particular advocate of markets and fairs, gaining grants to hold a fair on his land in Wiltshire in 1247, a market and two fairs in Herefordshire in 1259, and buying land in Hampshire with a market and a fair in 1268.
South Hall Manor would have been an attractive place for trade. Waleraund seems to have taken measures to improve the productivity of the manor. A watermill is first recorded on the land in 1270. Nearby Rainham Village was flourishing with a comparatively large population, and the area enjoyed thriving agriculture and good transport links. St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London was recorded as drawing grain, beans and hay from its estate in the centre of Rainham Village in 1200. In 1314 nearby Moor Hall Manor was recorded as producing milk, cheese, wool, calves and lambs. Rainham bridge was first mentioned in 1234, and Rainham Creek first recorded as an outlet for local produce in 1200. Fishermen were first recorded in Rainham in 1329.