Reynoldston Fair

 

REYNOLDSTON FAIR
by
Allan Duncan
1844 – 1925

 A painting of the Higher Green celebrating the annual Fair in 1885 hung in the kitchen of the Church Hall for many years. When the Hall was purchased by the community from the Church in Wales, the painting was taken to the Church and hung in the vestry until the present day and has been seen by very few. Over the years, and not helped by changes in humidity and temperature, both in the kitchen and then the vestry, the picture deteriorated considerably, becoming discoloured and “foxed”. The restoration of the original painting was commissioned by Peter Bowen-Simpkins. Full size copies of the painting and picture post cards are available to purchase.

Reynoldston Fair was a major annual event for the village, initially for the sale of cattle and horses and also as a hiring fair. As time went on it became a smaller affair on the Higher Green, with the trappings of a more traditional fairground including a boxing booth. The Fair finally ceased in 1938.

The picture is painted by Allan Duncan son of the perhaps better-known Edward Duncan who was a very successful artist. Allan shared a cottage in Reynoldston with James Harris junior, another fine artist and a son of James Harris senior, a pre-eminent marine artist who lived in The Bryn. On his death James junior moved into the parental house and Allan moved to Horton, where he remained for the rest of his life. He is buried in the churchyard at Port Eynon. Allan included scenes in Gower which he submitted to the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and to the Society of British Artists. Allan remained a bachelor.  His two nieces Muriel (d 1966) and Bertha Duncan (d1964) lived in Horton.

 

 

 This picture is available to view in the Minor Hall, Reynoldston Village Hall and can be purchased either in its original size on high quality artist’s paper or in smaller versions, including cards.

Full size unframed prints are available at £40 and framed, as seen in the Minor Hall, for £130. All proceeds go to St. George’s Church.

For further details please ‘phone 01792-390180.

 

This is taken from an article written by Deb Vine

 The King Arthur and Fair..1880s

The annual fairs took place on the Upper Green, outside the King Arthur Hotel. These were harvest fairs, traditionally always on September 17th. The morning of the old fair was taken up with a Horse Fair and Stock Auction, which attracted people from all over Gower.

School children from Cheriton School used to have a half-day’s holiday but apparently, they were the lucky ones. Knelston children would have to wait until the end of lessons before they were allowed to leave. The children would then run all the way from Kinston to Reyoldston for the real thrill of the day – the fun fair. This in latter years was always run by Bassetts who would be based for the summer down on the front at Port Eynon but would stop for the fair in Reynoldston on their ay back to Llanelli, where they would spend the rest of the year.

The Upper Green was covered with stalls of all kinds. There were games such as coconut shies, bran tubs and hoopla as well as stands selling teas for the ladies, fruit and a vast array of other things. These were mainly tall wooden stalls, which, as the evening wore on would be lit by paraffin lamps. The lamps would swing back and fore in the wind and became quite a fire hazard. If it was a really windy night tough, the lamps would blow out or occasionally be turned off by the young lads for devilment.

Among the numerous colourful stalls was a fruit stall, run by Mrs Billy Morgan, well remembered by many as being a tall, striking woman who could knock out any troublemakers. Her husband, Mr Morgan, was the champion of the boxing ring. This was a challenge booth with a prize for whoever could last three rounds with the champion.

Many of the girls were terrorised by “teasers”, metal-cased containers with screw tops bought for a penny and filled with water. The lads would chase the girls, squirting them with the water. It has been said that the girls would have to wash their hair when they got home, as the lads would end up filling the “teasers” with water from the gutter and sometimes worse!

Earlier fairs recall a wild animal show, as recorded in Yesterday’s Gower by Arthur Davies. “They’d come down on a Sunday and two elephants would be pulling them. There were two of every animal, in cages inside a marquee, two bears, two lions, two tigers. I remember father taking me there when I was about seven and there was a girl performing with a great big lion. She went into the cage at last, put a white cloth over her head, the old lion opened his mouth wide and she shoved her head right inside. Father seen me jump, see and he said “Don’t thee tak any notice boy, she’s well used to that”.

The fair would go on late into the night and The King Arthur Hotel would be packed out. If it got too crowded, the men would spill down to the Old Brewery. It was an off-licence then for beer and porter (stout) only, and not for drinking on the premises, so the men would take their beer onto the Lower Green. Around that time, Miss Howells kept The King Arthur. She was a wonderful pianist and well known for concerts she arranged in the Church Hall.

The Brewery, Lower Green…1900

Finally, at about midnight, the fair would come to an end. Men and women, a little worse for drinking would dance on the green outside the pub and eventually go home.

 

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