Stourbridge Common, Cambridge 4065

Cambridge, England, Cambridgeshire, Cambridge

Brief Description

An area of common land dating from at least the 13th century and the site of the Stourbridge Fair.


Stourbridge common appears on a field map of Cambridge dated 1300.


Detailed History

Sterebriggefeld and Sterebriggegren appear on a field map of Cambridge dated around 1300. The famous Stourbridge Fair was first held on the site in 1211 and grew to be the largest medieval fair in Europe. The fair lasted until it was abolished by the Secretary of State in 1934.

King John granted a charter to the town's leper hospital to hold a market on a large piece of common land on the south side of the the river, where navigable access for heavy goods was possible. Regular trading and entertaining fairs were held and traders brought shellfish, iron, timber and livestock by barges. The fair ran for three weeks always in August and September after the harvest and in 1797 the fair featured puppet shows, rope dancers, wrestling and a theatre.

Daniel Defoe wrote about the fair in 1728, describing the large cornfield which extended for about half a mile. He lists goods bought and sold in bulk - hops and wool (100,000 pounds worth in one year); wholesalers transacting business in their pocket books; and other traders: goldsmiths, milliners, mercers, pewterers, and ironmongers were sited amongst brandy shops, taverns and eating houses all in tents or booths. This great event was followed by an important horse fair.

Florence Keynes, as Mayor of Cambridge, officiated at its final year. She recalled:

'The first proclamation was made on Barnwell Bridge to the bewilderment of motorists from Newmarket who were held up by the Police. The second took place on the common in the presence of a couple of women with babies in their arms, and a puzzled youth in charge of an ice-cream barrow bearing the legend "Stop me and Buy one". This was the end'.

Today the common is used for grazing horses and cattle.