Seamer Horse Fair

Mortal Mindy's picture

Seamer Horse Fair a highlight event on the Travellers calender is underway near Scarborough. The Travellers Times advises that this year’s horse fair site is the same field as last year, having received planning consent for a further three years usage, i.e. off the B1261 between Seamer and Crossgates on the outskirts of Scarborough.The site for the horse fair will open on Friday 11 July 2014 (at 5 am) and will close on Tuesday 15 July (at 6pm).

As Scarborough is a tourist destination you would expect that a warm welcome to the Travelling community would be part of the local authorities campaign to attract visitors to the area and that the local media would embrace a further cultural string to its bow.  Indeed Scarborough Council have produced a 'welcome' leaflet for Gypsies and Travellers for this years event:

Site Rules: The site will be managed 24/7 by a company appointed by Scarborough Borough Council. Part of their job will be to collect all fees in addition to making sure that site rules are being followed. 24/7 closed-circuit television equipment (CCTV) will be employed to enhance safety for those on site.    Welcome?

All site trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders. To prevent damage to them and the site fencing, please refrain from climbing on them, tying horses or other animals to them, or attaching anything to them e.g. washing lines, bin bags etc. Also, all land next to the fair site (except the Dell) is strictly ‘out of bounds’and you should not enter onto this land. Please make sure children are also aware of these rules. Site users who disregard these instructions will be asked to leave. 

Oh thats OK they can leave freely and are encouraged to do so ... This year we will be adopting a ‘zero tolerance policy’ in regards to potentially dangerous and irresponsible driving on site, both day and night. Anyone who fails to heed this warning will be required to immediately leave the site and will not be permitted to enter this site, or any other that may be made available for your use, in future years. Don't come back!

Please be aware that quad bikes will not be allowed on the site and the parking of vehicles on verges is not permitted.    Where do they park their quad bikes then?  Along with : Please do not graze your horses off site; horses tethered on verges will be removed ... Are their assets to be siezed?  

Trolling through the history of Seamer it would appear that Seamer Fair and  Scarborough (with an odd Royal thrown in for good measure) have long been at odds:  Seamer was formerly of much greater importance than it is now.  Leland went 'from Shirburne by hilles on the right hond and low ground with carres on the lift hond a v. miles to Semar, a great uplandisch toune, having a greate lake on the south west side of it, whereof the toun takithe name.' (fn. 12) In 1376 it was declared that it would not be to the king's damage or that of neighbouring towns if Henry Lord Percy had a market and fair in his 'borough' of Seamer, (fn. 13) and in 1382 the king granted him a market every Monday and a fair yearly in July on the feast of St. Martin and for seven days following. (fn. 14) The market died out, and its revival about 1576 by Sir Henry Gate roused the protests of the burgesses of Scarborough, 3 miles away. An inquiry was held in January 1583–4, when the inhabitants of neighbouring villages said that Seamer market was much more accessible and better stocked than that of Scarborough, that the roads to Scarborough were 'evil and miry' in the winter, and that the loss of the new market would be the greatest that had ever befallen these parts. (fn. 15) In 1592 Scarborough again complained of its impoverishment and threatened inability to pay its subsidies, (fn. 16) but in 1609 James I granted Thomas Mompesson, lessee of this manor (fn. 17) a market and fair as in the grant of Richard II, with court of pie-powder, &c., 'if the said market and fair are not to the damage of other towns.' (fn. 18) A cattle market is now held every Monday and a yearly fair in July. source:

That goes some way into explaining why a fair was held at Seamer, Scarborough could not pay its taxes and relied on the Fair at Seamer to pay its dues.  Percy!  The BBC took a look at Seamer's Horse Fairs' historical roots : - Not until the 20th century was Seamer Fair associated with gypsies and their horses. The first gypsies did not reach England until the fair was two hundred years old.  The charter permits the sale of 'any lawful goods' as well as allowing any Seamer resident to sell malt liquor from his doorstep during the fair. So the occasion tended to be marked more usually by drunkenness than trading. .... For more than a hundred years, though, there has been friction between local residents and gypsy visitors to the fair. In July 1911 there were pitched battles which resulted in gypsies being prevented from entering the village or camping on its green.  Nowadays these tensions continue, which is unfortunate given that the proclamation of Seamer Fair specifically commands all resorting to it to keep 'the King's peace'. (lol)

It would seem that nowt's changed, when did Seamer sober up?  

Ironically, those campaigning agaisnt the future of Seamer Horse Fair are local UKIP supporters. 

to be cont'd







Mortal Mindy's picture

Joseph Rowntree - Conflict Resolution

Janie Codona and Jo Richardson from De Montfort University, Leicester, are undertaking a piece of research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The funded project seeks to examine some of the challenges faced by Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK, particularly related to the tension and conflict around Gypsy and Traveller sites on two key issues: (1) site management and (2) planning and development of new sites.

The core aim of this research project is to co-produce a methodology for reducing conflict around the development and management of Gypsy and Traveller sites, and we are working with Gypsy and Traveller communities and advocacy agencies in three case study areas.  We would also like to hear from people across the UK, Europe and indeed further afield with examples of:

Good site management (local authority and private examples)
Sites which are improving
Current consultation exercises on newly planned sites, or site extensions (we are interested not just in ‘good practice’ but in any examples where there is a lesson to be learnt.

Please contact if you have any examples you would like to share, or if you have any questions. :-)

Mortal Mindy's picture

Seamer Horse Fair 2015

Sat 11th July to Weds 15th July .... after last years fiasco "under no circumstances will the public be able to access the site except on the day of the fair"

Is that a fact? 

Fact is the Dean Road site owned by Assura (the Tesco site that went to public inquiry)  has been let to a 'developer' who is very swiftly clearing the site to make ready for a private 'car park', good job the Elm Tree has received its TPO then eh,   could be useful .... for a bit of tethering  :-))

'careful what you wish for'  - pmsl