June date set for Corby Pole Fair as double celebration for Queen's Platinum Jubilee

The last Corby Pole Fair took place in May 2002

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 12:00 pm

The date for one of Corby's most anticipated events has been revealed and it will be a double celebration bank holiday bonanza for the residents of the town.

Corby Pole Fair 2022, a tradition that takes place every 20 years, has been added to the town’s social calendar on Friday, June 3, 2022 - the second day of the four-day weekend to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

This date links the original granting of the Royal Charter to Corby by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 with the bank holiday weekend making it an extra special occasion as Made With Many, a community-led arts programme which produces events and activities, co-ordinates the Pole Fair celebrations.

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Helen Willmott, programme director of Made With Many, said: "We encourage all members of the community to get involved, and help ensure that the event in 2022 becomes an auspicious and enjoyable event that the whole community will remember for years to come."

The unique tradition comes around every 20 years, with the last Pole Fair last taking place in May 2002 on the Charter Field in Corby Old Village, attracting crowds of 30,000 to enjoy outdoor attractions, entertainment and of course, the reading of the Royal Charter at the three entrances to the village.

Pole Fairs in the past have used Corby's Viking past to establish a traditional punishment of 'riding the stang' - men who had committed minor offences were carried astride an ash pole or 'stang' through the village and having insults or missiles thrown at them.

Corby's Royal Charter was granted in 1568 by Elizabeth I. The Royal Charter contained six rights and is believed to have been granted by Elizabeth I for one of two reasons - in return for personal services to Sir Christopher Hatton, her favourite courtier or as a thank you to the men of Corby for rescuing her when she fell off her horse in Rockingham Forest.

God Save The King! Corby Pole Fair 1902

She is said to have commanded all local authorities in the country to exempt 'the men and tenants of the manor of Corbei' from tolls and dues. Prior to the charter, Corby had been granted permission to hold two fairs a year by Henry III in 1226, but these had long disappeared, though customs were retained in the Pole Fair.

In preparation for the next Pole Fair, a small group of volunteers joined together in 2019, and have since been working with Made With Many, HD Media CIC, Corby Council, and more recently ArtReach, to make plans. Together, they aim to gather input and involvement from local residents, community groups, schools and businesses to develop an inspiring funding proposal and plan for June 2022.

Even with government restrictions in place, in November and December 2020, the group managed to conduct online focus groups to gather local people’s hopes and dreams for the next event. Paper surveys were also distributed to older people in supported housing and to Old Village residents, aiming to gather memories from past events as well as opinions and ideas of what the 2022 event should look like.

Ms Willmott added: "Thanks to National Lottery players, we’ve been able to expand our efforts in planning for the next Corby Pole Fair."

1982 Pole Fair

An online survey is still open for submissions until the end of January, where people can share reminiscences about previous fairs and feedback future ideas. Click here to take part. Residents who are not confident with using technology, or do not have online access are invited to call Made With Many’s Community Engagement Co-ordinator, Tom Briggs, or text to request a call back, to go through the survey questions via an informal phone chat. To take part in the phone survey contact Tom on 07923 221759 and for updates, follow the Corby Pole Fair Facebook page or visit www.madewithmany.org.

Corby Old Village Pole Fair action
Post war fun at the Pole Fair