The crowds and culture of eighteenth-century London fairs
This chapter reconstructs the rich and varied experience of fair going from printed accounts and images of fair spectacles describing everything from the pressing crowds to food and drink to rope-dancing women. Fairs discussed include May Fair, Bartholomew Fair, Southwark Fair, and Tottenham Court Fair. This analysis demonstrates how urban festivities disrupted the usual workings of the city and begins to explain why fair entertainment appealed to a wide social spectrum of Londoners. Understanding the amusements of fairs and the logistics of attending them helps us understand what motivated urban officials to regulate them and why they successfully resisted regulation throughout the early eighteenth century.
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