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Overton Markets and Fairs

Sheep Fair

This article traces the history of the fairs and markets from 1218 to the present day, including the commodities traded, how the markets were regulated and the revenues due to the Bishop of Winchester as lord of the manor.

In the 19th century, the annual sheep fair was moved from the main street to a more convenient field and the local gentry formed an ‘Overton Sheep Fair Society’ with prizes for the best entries and a sumptuous dinner. Both initiatives resulted in a substantial increase in business with up to 100,000 animals changing hands. As with all the country fairs, however, the coming of the railways eventually resulted in its demise, as the sellers moved their sheep by rail to the major cities where prices were higher. The associated pleasure fair was revived in 2000. It is held every four years and attracts thousands of visitors.

Content derived from research undertaken as part of the Victoria County History project