It’s often hard to trace the beginning of a local fair; so many have come and gone over the years. We are very lucky that the Black Cherry Fair has a history which can be traced back as far as 1440 when town fairs were a new and exciting event for the local people, who could sample goods from out-of-town traders and get together with their neighbours for a good ‘chin wag’. In fact, not very different from today!
Local town fairs became extremely popular in the 1400’s. They were an opportunity for trade at a time when there were no local shops, and a chance for celebration and festivities for local people and their neighbouring communities.
Chertsey had several fairs at this time, and it was on the 24th May 1440, that King Henry VI granted the Abbot of Chertsey the right to hold a fair on St. Ann’s Hill, Chertsey, on 26th July, the Feast of St. Ann, mother of the Blessed Mary. He imposed a charge on all stollage (stalls) and pickage (the right to erect tents) and the income was a welcomed addition to the coffers of Chertsey Abbey.
The fair was extremely popular and during the 1500’s it moved from St Ann’s Hill into the town itself and changed name to the Black Cherry fair. Directories in 1794 list the items on sale as black cherries, hogs, horses, cows and toys.
Records show that the Black Cherry Fair continued as an annual event for nearly five hundred years, but the Second World War interrupted it’s continuous history and, after the war ended, the fair was replaced with a town sports day. It was 30 years later, in 1975, that the Chertsey Chamber of Commerce re-established the fair in its current form. In 2006 the Rotary Club of Chertsey took charge of the Black Cherry Fair and the organisation behind it. In keeping with tradition, the Rotary Club uses money raised from the stallholders to provide grants for local projects and good causes. It continues to be held on the second Saturday of July each year on Abbeyfields, at the site of the Chertsey Abbey, the very reason for its creation over 580 years before.
Event co-ordinator 2021