Bartholomew Fair June 6th 1923
Extracted from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Journal July 1923. View a pdf of the Journal here. Reports start at p 129, and then 149.

THE idea of reviving Bartholomew Fair was a brilliant one - we do not know who conceived it. But it was no light task to turn the idea into a concrete fact. No one can deny that the task was successfully accomplished. It might drizzle, it might rain, or it might be fine in a sulky kind of way, but the Fair went with a swing from start to finish. The earlier part of the celebrations was dramatic and impressive, but many will remember the Fair the longest of all. How can we describe it? Recipe: The Three Arts Ball, Burlington Arcade and Hampstead Heath on a Whit Monday- partes aequales. Misce. Sig.: To be taken in front of the Smithfield Gate from 2 to 7 p.m. three days a week. But do not follow this prescription more than once in eight hundred years!
To begin with the Lord Mayor proceeded through the streets of London in the traditional manner to open the Fair. Fortunately he was sufficiently recovered to be able to do so from a wheeled chair. The Fair was proclaimed in front of the Smithfield Gate. The clerk of the weather chose an inconvenient moment to let loose a sharp shower.
When this was over the Proclamation was made. Those in the front rows of the dense throng could perhaps see everything and hear everything. We weren't and couldn't.
The Master of the Fair, Mr. W. Holdsworth, read the following address of welcome to the Lord Mayor:
“MY LORD Mayor, - We, the Students of the Medical College of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in the City of London, desire to thank you most heartily in our own name and in that of the present assembly for your courtesy in coming amongst us todav to open the mimic representation of that Fair which was held for so many years in the immediate neighbourhood of the place where we now stand, a Fair of much value to us as Students because, under the eye of our Masters, we learnt to treat many injuries and divers wounds which we might otherwise never have had the opportunity of seeing. 
“We feel, Sir, that your presence today is an additional proof of the interest which the Citizens of London have always shown in the welfare of their Hospital during the eight hundred years it has served them, an interest which has increased, were it possible, with the lapse of years, 
“We remember with gratitude that when in the past the fortunes of the Hospital were at their lowest ebb, the Citizens of London interceded for this their Hospital, and did establish it on so firm a foundation that it has been enabled, in the fulness of time, to obtain a foremost position amongst the great charities, not only of this metropolis, but of the world itself.
“Sir, - We are grateful to you, and we know that so long as we are true to the great traditions we have inherited from the long line of our illustrious predecessors we shall merit vour esteem and continued confidence”.
The Lord Mayor, in reply, said:
“l am very pleased to be here this afternoon, and to enjoy in person the kind weleome you have given me:
"As you will see, I have come to the Hospital in a character that you are all familiar with - the grateful patient just on the road to recovery who wants to give a practical mark of goodwill, and, even at little pains and trouble, to testify an affection for the care shown in suffering. So I have listened with special interest to your Address, and shall keep it as not the least interesting of those I have received during my Mayoralty.
“I think you have done well to emphasise the time-honoured connection between the Corporation and the Hospital. St. Bartholomew's Hospital is the glory of the City of London, and we will never part with it.
"Now, I am here to do the duty which for many years fell to my predecessors, and to declare Bartholomew Fair open once more.
“It has been a pleasure to the Corporation to lend you the ancient site of the Fair and we know that in the hands of the Students of St. Bartholomew's Hospital the old splendour and gaiety
will be fittingly revived.
"I wish you all good fortune in your efforts, and with a full heart I pray for the prosperity of this grand old Hospital.
“I declare the Fair open, and the Crier will now read the Proclamation”.
Afterwards the Lord Mayor drank hippocras from a loving-eup amid general enthusiasm, and made a round of the Fair.
Several malefactors were confined in the stocks and these he graciously ordered to be released.
The various stalls appeared to be doing a fair trade, largely in articles which one would think no-one could possibly want to buy. The contents of the stalls were necessarily painfully modern, but the salesmen acted in the spirit of the names inscribed above their stalls - names which required a little ingenuity to interpret. “Here is a sold sac and petam of Virgiaia " - to say nothing of gold flake cigarettes. “Sir Ernest’s own beaupot and posy booth” - does a cabbage come under the heading of a beaupot or a posy? Some of the labels explained themselves, such as “The Merchant Taylor”  "Toys, Trinketts, Gimcrackes and Staconere." Other were frankly non-committal.  "Chattels and Phantasies" might, and apparently did, include almost anything.
Some kept their money in their pockets and passed by the stalls, only to be entrapped by the lures of the cocoa-nut shy or hopes of catching a little fish out of a fish-pond. There was a wonderful game of chance, calculated to lure on only the countriest of country cousins. We, being young and foolish, put a sixpence on, urged by a dazzling hope of getting it back again (chances only 50 to 1 against. Or one could throw rings at all sorts of things, and perhaps win something one wasn't aiming at and didn't know what to do with.
It needed judgement in the first place to select the least useless object to strive for. Perhaps most exciting of all was the game of catching in nets the little balls blown up out of a funnel - a very easy game to cheat at was this. All the nobility and gentry might be seen catching little balls as if their lives depended on it. We cannot describe everything - the Punch and Judy show, the boxing matches, or the Elizabethan newsboys who would give you the latest - highly Georgian - news
of the Derby. There was a wonderful bridge, slung up overnight by the Engineers across the railway goods approach to the garden beyond. From here one got a splendid view of the whole Fair - quite a big enough proportion of Tudor costumes to make it all thoroughly convincing.
And what, we wonder, would Mr. Bernard Shaw have thought of us it he could have seen the apotheosis of the quacks - two quacks, each quackier than the other? One of them, aided by his assistants, Gastrocnemius, Sartorius and so on, made magics of a kind hitherto unknown, save perhaps to Dr. Huntley. He must be congratulated on his extensive repertoire of Elizabethan patter.
And when his patter had run out he could easily disperse his audience with an appropriate stink until his breath came back again. He had most ferocious wrangles with his rival quack - an expert in corns and their cure. We should not like in these columns definitely to give judgment as to who really did cure Christopher Columbus (and his American accent), or who really stole whose secret
prescription. The white magician next door was giving a really excellent display of conjuring, in which (pre-sumably Elizabethan) billiard balls came and went and deceived the eye. We regret we did not have fortunes told by the fortune-teller. We were put off by the size of the queue, so we passed on and labelled the queue as morbidly credulous, curious and neurotic. But you only had to look at the Astrologer to tell how efficient he was.
In a tent at the far end were Merry Revellers, and very heartily they revelled. A pianist of and a violinist on the stage assisted the singers. Many of their choruses we haven't yet got out of our heads. All were good, but we give the palm to "Gaffer Jarge." We are told he is to be seen about the Hospital, but we haven't met anyone in ordinary clothes who looks at all like that.
The Amateur Dramatic Club had been requested to perform an Elizabethan play. They were ready to do as requested, but the question arose, What Elizabethan play: For Elizabethan and Georgian wit are very different. Finally "The Foure P" written by John Haywood in 1545 was chosen, and, carefully edited, was acted with the enthusiasm, skill and wit we have learnt to expect from this Club. The Palmer, Pardoner, Potycary and Pedlar showed us the Elizabethan stage at its best.
And then there were the stocks. Every picture tells a story, and we should like to have a picture of every member of the Staff in side. Until the Fair came to an end no one on the Staff could have felt that his life was very safe. People naturally felt that they did not often get such a chance to put their superiors in their proper place, Even the representatives of the law were not immune. Very different amounts were subscribed to bail the victim out. We now know a method of assessing everybody at their cash value.
Teas were provided in a tent just inside the Hospital. The wise came early. The less wise waited in a queue till the wise had had their fill. And the band, or rather Mynstrelles, played from 3 to 6.
And on the next day, Thursday, it was the same, and went with even more swing. And again on the Friday - only admission was two-and-sispence instead of five shillings - the fun went on till the evening at 7 o'clock, at which time "it is His Lordship's pleasure that the Fair do finally end," a charming congratulator speech was made by Sir Ernest Flower, the Master of the Fair was carried around shoulder high, and the National Anthem was finally sung. then everyone realised with a horrid shock that it was 1923, and a prosaic world with its “daily round " was waiting round the corner.
The Fair was especially the Students' part in the Celebrations. It was in every way successful. Bartholomew's men are to be congratulated on the wit, good humour, and, withal, dignity with which they brought a difficult undertaking to a brilliantly successtul conclusion.