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You are in: Northamptonshire » A Sense Of Place

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002 - 12:00 BST
The Charter
Image from the Corby Pole Fair
The charter was very valuable to Corbei.
Many of the traditions of the Corby Pole Fair stem from the granting of a charter to the village. But how Corby got its charter is still disputed.


Corby Pole Fair website

Corby Borough Council

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Have you been to the Corby Pole Fair before?

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History of the event

Events planned for 2002

Past Corby Pole Fairs

Old photographs from Pole Fairs
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What is a charter?
Queen Elizabeth granted Corby, or Corbei as it was then known, a charter in 1585.
The charter contained six rights, which, at the time, were considered very valuable.

The rights
Landowners in Corbei were exempted from:

'Pignnage'. A tax that was paid to allow local people to feed their pigs on fallen acorns in Rockingham Forest.

'Murage'. A tax to maintain and build walls at Rockingham Castle.

'Passage'. Corbei men could pass through toll gates throughout England without having to pay.

Contributing to the expenses of the Member of Parliament for the area.

Jury service.

The sixth right was for all the local residents. It gave every man the right to refuse to serve in the local militia.

How did Corbei get its charter?
Historians have long suggested that the granting of the charter was in return for payment to the reigning monarch. This was common at the time.

But for the romantics out there, here's another version.

Queen Elizabeth was out hunting with a party in Rockingham Forest, became lost, and was thrown into a treacherous bog.

She was rescued by villagers from Corbei and said the immortal words: "Corbei God Bless You".

The Queen then granted the village its charter as a thank you.

How is the charter incorporated into the fair?

It is not known how or when the charter was incorporated in to the celebration of the Pole Fair.

Now, the charter is read at the three main entrances to the village - Church Street, as it was known, the White Hart and in the Jamb at the start of the day.

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