Corbei Pole Fair, The Corbei fifth Pole fair or the Corby Pole Fair
- whatever its true name, this ancient and unique tradition comes
around every 20 years and will take place on Monday, 6th May.
Why it is held every 20 years has never been discovered, nor why
it is called a pole fair. But one theory suggests that when the
Danes settled in the area, naming Corby village 'The BY of Kori',
they brought many customs and punishments with them.
One such punishment, which lends itself to the theory, was 'riding
This involved men who had committed minor offences being carried
astride an ash pole or stang. Insults and missiles where then thrown
at the punished as they were carried through the town or village.
Fairs are believed to have taken place in Corby as far back as 1226
when Henry III granted the right to hold two annual fairs and markets.
The first documented event being held in 1862.
Traditions and proceedings
The rector of the village is traditionally carried around on a chair,
as are the chairman of the council and the oldest person known to
be born in the village.
The bells of the old parish church chime out to wake all the villagers
for the celebrations.
is read out at the three entrances to the village and then, after
the final reading, a short service is conducted to give blessings
for the success of the day and the day's activities are officially
Maguire (far right) with a giant Queen Elizabeth I at the Corby
Pole Fair of 1982
this point on, anyone wanting to enter the village must do so on
foot and pay a toll. This tradition holds today.
The comfort ends at this point for the three people carried in on
chairs, as they are they find themselves the first occupants of
traditional attractions, at least since records began, include the
pageant, an ox-roast and climbing the greasy pole. New entertainments
recently added include a street market, dancing displays and a tug-of-war.
Maguire, from Sheffield, remembers the Corby Pole Fair of 1982 (see
the picture above). He said: From left to right the people in the
picture are Andrew Taylor, Mary Macauley, James Downey and myself,
far right with the dodgy sideburns and tights. I can't remember
who was in the giant Queen Elizabeth.
were members of Flesh & Blood youth theatre company which was
part of a YOP Scheme run by Corby Council from November 1981 to
November 1982 and we were based at the Corby Civic theatre. We took
part in several local events including the Pole Fair and the Highland
remember it being a very warm day and we seemed to walk miles and
miles getting hotter and hotter but it was great fun and for me
it is a wonderful memory to treasure."