Every year since I was a little child I have attended the Marlborough Mop fair on the Saturdays before and after 11th October.
“What does this have to do with recruitment?” I hear you ask. Well, the origin of the event dates back over 800 years. ‘Mop Fairs’ were events designed to allow local landowners to find staff to tend their land and manage their homes. The name ‘Mop’ comes from the tradition of workers carrying items, like mops, to demonstrate their trades. A housekeeper might carry her mop or a shepherd might have a tuft of wool pinned to his jacket. Once hired, the workers would discard their tufts of wool etc. and wear a ribbon provided by their new employer instead.
The second event, the Big Mop Fair, allows those that were unsuccessful at the first event or those for whom their new employment has not worked out to try again at securing employment.
By the 19th Century the event in Marlborough, Wiltshire’s only ‘Mop’ town, had became dominated by the entertainment and food vending industries, it’s reputation spoiled by the amounts of alcohol available from the many taverns lining Marlborough’s wide High Street.
The recruitment aspect of the event is now no more, and since the Showman’s Guild took over the running of the event in the 1950s, the Marlborough Mop has become an event for all the family, with fairground rides and attractions.
For more about this historic event, see this BBC article from 2009 by Daniel Garrett.
Image by Wiltshire Blue on Flickr.
This entry is cross-posted on sourceress.co.uk