Please Visit the official Widecombe Fair Website for full details, including dates for this year's fair, normally the second Tuesday in September.

In the Woolman’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette dated Saturday, October 19th, 1850, it was announced that on the following Friday a Free Fair would be held on the Green adjoining the Church Yard at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. There would be a large show of cattle and quantity of Moorland sheep offered for sale.

On Saturday, November 2nd, 1850, the Gazette reported that "A cattle fair was held at Widecombe-in-the-Moor for the first time on Tuesday last." It was also reported that there was a large attendance of yeomen and gentlemen of the district and good business was done. It was thought that the fair should be permanently established. 736 sheep were penned, 75 score and 7 fatted beasts plus 4 bulls. One South Devon cow, reared by the vicar, Rev J.H. Mason, was sold for £15.10s. About 50 ponies were driven in, the breed and character of the Widecombe stock being highly appreciated. It was intended to fix the future date not to clash with any other neighbouring fair. It was agreed that Widecombe was fortunate to have a Green that was an ideal site, also that it could have a Free Fair.

The vicar, well known for his hospitality, held a large dinner party and celebrated the fair in "Fine Old English Style." Mr John Germon of Moreton presided and it is said that the guests left "brimful of enjoyment."

From the Parish Register we find that the guests included:

  • John Tozer of Solomon Tozer, Agent for the Rev T Fry
  • Lord of the Manor of Widecombe
  • Thomas Escott Cresswell
  • John Germon, Moretonhampstead, Chairman
  • James Woodlet, Halsanger - bought 34 sheep
  • John Sparke Amay (Amery), Druid, Ashburton
  • William White, Solicitor, Moretonhampstead
  • Wm A Cockley Solicitor, Ashburton
  • H C Creagh, Surveyor, Ashburton
  • Robt Nosworthy, Ford, Manaton
  • Henry Hals, Scagell, Farmer
  • John May, Yeoman, Moretonhampstead
  • W.B. Germon, Yeoman, Moreton
  • John Pearse, Butcher, Ashburton
  • John Coaker, Yeoman, Bellaford

The song used for the now famous Widecombe Fair can be traced long before 1850. The words and tune varied according to the part of the country, but always had the same theme of Tom Pearse and Tom Cobley.

By 1890 when the Rev. Baring Gould published it in his "Songs of the West" it had become known in its present form.

The original Thomas Cobley is thought to have died in Spreyton in 1794. His great nephew, a Thomas Cobley of Butsford in the Parish of Colebrook died in 1844 aged 82 years and is buried in Spreyton just outside the South door of the Church.

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