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Bartholomew Fair is back

Banned by the Victorians for public debauchery, the City is reviving the fair to boost tourism

The Lord Mayor launched the revival of the historic Bartholomew Fair yesterday (Aug 30).

The Fair was one of London’s main events for 700 years and was last held in 1855 when it was banned after complaints of public debauchery. The event is now being reimagined with a modern twist to celebrate the City of London’s heritage and contemporary culture, with a programme of internationally renowned artists.

The Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons cut a special ribbon designed by artist Damien Hirst at London’s oldest parish church St Bartholomew the Great to launch the Fair, which runs until September 16.

The tradition of ribbon cutting for opening ceremonies originated at Cloth Fair, next to St Barts.

Another tradition was also revived yesterday: The Great Disputation, a public debate that originated at St Bartholomew the Great in the Middle Ages and was the forerunner of academic tutorials and parliamentary debates. Last night The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove took part in a lively debate on “This house believes that the love of money is the root of the nation’s evils.”

The other participants were Eddie Dempsey, Senior Assistant General Secretary, RMT; Aaron Bastani of Novara Media; Bim Afolami MP; Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner for the Church of England; and the Revd Canon Dr Giles Fraser. It was chaired by Dame Sarah Mullally, Lord Bishop of London.

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