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Appleby (located in Cumbria, England) was originally known as the County Town of Westmorland. It developed after the time of the Norman Conquest by virtue of its strategic geographical location. It is an ancient town, set in a great loop of the River Eden, protected on the South side by the Norman Castle, sheltered from the East by the High Pennines and from the West by the Lakeland Fells. It is situated by the main East-to-West Roman Road in the Eden Valley. Today, Appleby is an attractive and picturesque market town endowed with much charm. It is an area that enjoys a somewhat milder and drier climate than most of Cumbria. Appleby's uncommonly wide main street, Boroughgate, has been described as one of the finest in all of England. This thoroughfare...an avenue of mature lime trees planted in the 1870s...runs from the North end of the town, the location of the main shopping area (which has been the town's market since 1174), to the South end of the town by the entrance to Appleby Castle. The beginning and end of Boroughgate are marked by the "Low Cross" and the "High Cross." These Crosses mark the original boundaries of the market. Appleby can claim its beginnings from the time of the Celts, Romans and Vikings.

Surrounded by 25 acres of parkland, Appleby Castle has stood guard over the Eden Valley since the time of the Normans. It is the stronghold of the Clifford Lords, formerly owned by English Kings, as well as being seized by the King of Scotland. Erected when William II won the majority of Westmoreland from the Scots in 1092, Abbpleby Castle is an impressive building of which the Keep, known as Caesar's Tower, is the oldest. However, perhaps the most striking feature is the Dwelling House, which was built in the late 17th Century. The grounds themselves contain magnificent walks with a wide variety of rare breeds of sheep, goats, pheasants, hens, ducks, geese and teals...together with a splendid specimen of the Weeping Cedar.

Appleby Horse Fair (the largest traditional horse fair of its kind in the world) was set up by Charter under the reign of James II in 1685 and has been an annual event since that time. Originally, it was a venue for the trading of all types of livestock and general merchandise. Its popularity with the large numbers of gypsies who would come each year eventually led to the occasion being known as a specialist horse fair. Today, Appleby Fair is the venue of one the largest remaining gatherings of Romany and gypsy people. The event is held during the second week of June, beginning on the Wednesday of that week and with the main horse sale on the Tuesday of the following week. Harness races and celebrations lead up to this sale day and horses are lead trotting up and down the lanes in order to show them off prior to the sales. The field which is the main site for the participants is found on the outskirts of Appleby. It was originally known as Gallows Hill, due to the nature of its usage in earlier times. However, it is now called Fair Hill and looks West over the town of Appleby and East toward the Pennines.

During the two weeks of the Fair, horses may be found everywhere...in the river, on its banks, along the green, on roadsides and lanes, or even tethered outside hotels, shops and public houses (the local taverns). The ownership of a horse can, by wheeling and dealing, change several times throughout the course of the Fair and sales are usually clinched with a slap on the hand, after a one-to-one bartering rather than a traditional type of auction.

About the Gypsies and Travellers:

There are a number of different Gypsy groups visiting the Fair. The Romani Gypsies, or Romani Chal, are an ethnic group made up of extended families, whose origins are traced back to Northern India over 1 000 years ago. Each extended family will have its own Head Gypsy or Sheara Rom.

The second major group is the Travellers. Their ethnic origins are unclear, but it is widely thought that they were in Britain before 1506, when the first Romani arrived in Scotland. It has been suggested that the ancestors of the Travellers brought ironworking and blacksmithing into Britain. The Travellers share a very similar culture to the Romani, however, their ethnic origin is different, and therefore they belong to different families. The Traveller community also includes Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers and Welsh Gypsies, (who call themselves Kale, and who have been in Britain since about 1400). Each of these cultures has its own distinct family groups.

You can find out more about the history, culture and lifestyles of Gypsies and Travellers during the Fair itself through a project called Education on the Hoof, which holds free events during the Fair.
Click here for more details.

Appleby Fair coincides with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history month, which is designed to help people understand and celebrate the role Britain’s 300,000 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have played in living, working and travelling throughout Britain for the last 500 years. To find out more visit www.grthm.co.uk.


APPLEBY FAIR
www.applebyfair.org



Appleby Fair has been held for certain since 1750, and probably for very much longer than that. It is held for one week every year from the first Thursday in June until the second Wednesday and is world famous, the largest Fair of its kind in Europe.

It is an annual event attended by Romany and Irish families travelling to meet up with old friends, celebrate their music, history and folklore and conduct business - particularly buying and selling horses.

Traditionally Gypsies and Travellers reside on Fair Hill (a field situated on the outskirts of the town) and trade horses, running them on public roads so they can display them to prospective purchasers. Young people wash the horses in the River Eden to get them ready to show to prospective buyers. In the evening Fair Hill glows, with campfires flickering among the horsedrawn carriages.

Gypsies and Travellers Because of the diverse nature of the Gypsy and Traveller population, these representatives on the committee do not wield absolute power, or a magic wand, but because the Fair is such a vital and important part of their culture, they have a real interest is seeing it continue, and so will go to some lengths to help solve genuine problems where and when they arise.

Visitors to the Fair may well hear a variety of languages being spoken there. As well as English, many speak Romany and you might also hear English Cant, Irish Cant, Shelta, Welsh Romani, as well as French and German, as the visiting families are widely spread over Europe.

There is some intermarrying between Traveller families and Gypsy families, and they share a number of common characteristics – for example skill with horses, strongly defined gender roles, and strong moral values regarding courtship, the sanctity of marriage, and loyalty and honour.

In addition to these ethnic groups, there is another large group who are not part of the Gypsy and Traveller families, but who have adopted Gypsy ways. They are not ‘blood’ Gypsies, but ‘new’ Travellers.


 

 

 

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