Corby Pole Fair wins major lottery backing to get the 2022 event off the ground

It's a once in a generation event in Corby

By Kate Cronin
Saturday, 16th May 2020, 8:56 am
The 1982 Pole Fair
The 1982 Pole Fair

The National Lottery has handed £35,000 to the organisers of the Corby Pole Fair to help them put together the 2022 extravaganza.

Corby Pole Fair takes place once every 20 years and the next one is due to take place in two years' time.

The steering group for the event, which is famed for its unique combination of colloquial events, will use the cash from the lottery's community and heritage funds to expand their plans and make sure local people are at the heart of the project.

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The Pole Fair takes place in the Old Village and is said to have been celebrated in some form for over a thousand years. There are numerous traditions that take place at every fair, including a dawn parade with a reading of the town's charter, floral gateways to the old village and a greasy pole competition.

At the celebration, every person entering the village has to pay a small toll or face the stocks. Previous fairs have also included markets, performances, historical re-enactments and a large fun fair.

Last year, a small group of volunteers came together with Made in Corby, HD Media CIC and Corby Borough Council to start to plan the next Pole Fair.

Thanks to the funding that comes from lottery ticket sales, the steering group will undertake a wide consultation in autumn 2020 and gain specialist support with planning. Activities will include an exhibition of the extensive Pole Fair archives held by Corby Heritage Centre and a series of focus groups for local residents, businesses,

schools and community groups.

HD Media CIC will also be undertaking a film archive project, bringing together archive footage of previous fairs and preserving it for future generations.

Helen Willmott, Programme Director of Made in Corby, said: “We are really excited to be working with a fantastic group of volunteers and partners in planning the next Pole Fair. We can’t wait to expand that group and to hear local people’s ideas for what promises to be a truly memorable event.”

To stay up to date with developments, follow the Corby Pole Fair Facebook page here or to register your interest in taking part in a consultation session email

your details to [email protected]


The fair’s origins are shrouded in mystery but it’s believed the custom of ‘riding the stang’ was established by the town’s a Viking settlers.

The stang - a horizontal ash pole - would be held aloft and men who had committed minor offences would have to sit astride it, carried through the Old Village, with missiles being thrown at them.

They’d then be taken to the village stocks.

Since 1862, the fair has been held every 20 years and attracts thousands to the Old Village. Visitors have to pay a toll T the three entrances to the village or face being hauled to the stocks.

The town’s Royal Charter, granted in 1568 by Elizabeth I, is read at the three entrances to the village.

A ‘greasy pole’ climb is one of the attractions and the rector of the village - currently Rev Paul Frost - is traditionally carried around on a chair and taken to the stocks, as are the chairman of the council and the oldest person known to be born in the village.

It is also traditional for the bells of St John’s Church to be rung to wake the villagers for the celebration and parishioners have been raising money for bells for this very purpose.

Afte the charter is read, and blessings bestowed on the fair, give blessings for the success of the fair, the day's activities are officially opened and anyone wanting to enter the village must do so on foot and pay a toll.