Bartholomew Fair, a fair held in West Smithfield, London, on St Bartholomew's Day (24th of August, O.S.) from 1133 to 1855. The charter authorizing its holding was granted by Henry I. to his former minstrel, Rahere, who had taken orders and had founded the priory of St Bartholomew close by. For many centuries the fair lasted a fortnight, but in 1691 it was shortened to four days only. In 1641 it had become so large that it involved no less than four parishes: Christ Church, Great and Little St Bartholomew's and St Sepulchre's. It was customary for the lord mayor of London to open the fair formally on St Bartholomew's Eve, and on his way to stop at Newgate where he received from the governor a cup of sack. In 1753, owing to the change in the calendar, the fair was proclaimed on the 3rd of September. During its earlier history the fair grew to be a vast national market and the chief cloth sale in the kingdom. Down to 1854 it was usual for the representative of the Merchant Taylors' Gild to proceed to the cloth fair which formed part of Bartholomew fair, and test the measures used for selling cloth there by the company's silver yard.
The fair was finally closed in 1855.
For a full account see Prof. H. Morley, Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (1859).