fair ground

fair ground

Also known as Sheep Fair and Fair Field


Fair Ground was the name applied to the triangular area between North Lane and Court Ash. The land was known as 'Fair Ground' in the 19th century and had earlier been called 'Sheep Fair' and 'Fair Field' (not to be confused with Fairfield in Huish) .

In Medieval times this area was most likely used us the town's archery butts. In early times the area was known as 'The Kennels' and used for badger-baiting, dog fighting, cock fighting, single-sticks and cudgel-playing.

There again, it wasn't all plain sailing as the Bath Chronicle recalled in the death notices of its edition of 11 October 1781 "At Yeovil, Mr William Gover, a noted cock-fighter; his death was occasioned by a cock's sticking a steel spur into his knée, which turned into a mortification."

In the early part of the 19th century a rope walk had run from the very top, behind the Mansion House, to the very bottom, opposite the Pall Tavern. E Watts' map of 1829 noted the area as "Proposed Cattle Market". During the late 19th century a timber shed stood at its junction with Silver Street which housed the town’s fire engine.

The 1846 Tithe Apportionment noted that the Fair Ground was owned by William Phelips with John Cox as tenant. The size of the Fair ground was recorded as 0a 2r 20p.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the cattle market, was held weekly in Princes Street (then known as Cattle Market), recalled in the Hendford Herald in an article entitled 'A Century of Yeovil, 1846-1946' - "Some 4,000 sheep and 600 beasts thronged Cattle Market, now Princes Street, and Sheep Lane (today's North Lane) every week. The confusion so caused must have been very great, and in 1856 it was found necessary to remove the market to its present site; then known as 'Fairfield' or 'The Kennels' and at one time, it is said, the site of quarries from which came the stone for the Parish Church."

The area was set up as an official market by the Corporation in 1892 although the 1888 Ordnance Survey map shows this area as the cattle market with sheep pens at the bottom end. This market ended in 1979.

For details on historic land measurement (ie acres, roods and perches) click here.



E Watts' map of 1806 shows 'Sheep Fair' sandwiched between Court Ash and Sheep Lane.


E Watt's map of 1831 shows the name now changed to 'Fair Ground'.

The 1886 Ordnance Survey of Fair Ground.




A 1920's photograph of Yeovil cattle market being held in the Fair Ground. The house at the top left is North Lane House (seen at the top left in the next photograph), now the site of North Lane car park.


An aerial view of the Fair Ground taken in 1955 clearly showing the numerous buildings and sheep pens. St John's church is at bottom left and the Odeon cinema at top right. Note the cattle market at far right.


The Fair Ground with its animal sheds, etc. photographed from the grass bank, seen in the photo above, by the Odeon Cinema in 1956. At top left is North Lane House and at top right is the Mansion House.


Yeovil cattle market on what is now the car park between North Lane and Court Ash. Probably in the 1950s or '60s.


Fair Ground in a colourised photograph of the mid-1960's. The building at the rear of the car park was the poultry shed.


.... and the same area seen from an unusual angle, probably in the 1960s. Notice all the posters on the wall in North Lane, at the rear of Church Terrace. At top left is the Pall Tavern.


This photograph, taken from North Lane and looking towards Market Street, dates to January 1985 when it fell 'deep, and crisp, and even'.