William Godwin's Diary


Bartholomew Fair was held annually in August and September in Smithfield, London to coincide with the feast of St Bartholomew on 24 August. A variety of entertainments and booths selling alcohol and food were on offer. The fair had a reputation for disorder which ensured it was regarded with suspicion by the authorities.

The Morning Chronicle for 5 September 1791 mentions that 'the nuisance of Bartholomew Fair was proclaimed, and commenced in the usual form' on Saturday 3 September. The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser for 5 September reported that the Lord Mayor 'has adopted very laudable measures to suppress the riots which are usually experienced in Smithfield and its neighbourhood during Bartholomew Fair'.

See ‘Fairs’ in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776-1832, ed. by Iain McCalman et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 503-4.