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The principal public amusements of Cambridge are concerts; these are frequent, and are generally conducted in the first style of excellence, particularly those at the Commencement, when the most celebrated vocal and instrumental performers in England are engaged. These concerts are generally performed at the Town Hall; except at a public Commencement, when the Senate-House is lent for the occasion, and oratorios are performed in St. Mary's Church.
Public balls, supported by the principal families in the University, County and Town, occasionally take place, and are generally held in the Town Hall. The principal ball, however, is at the Commencement, which is always numerously and most respectably attended.
During the continuance of Stourbridge Fair, dramatic exhibitions are allowed, when the Norwich company of performers attend for the occasion.
There are in the town Book Clubs, formed on different plans : the principal of them is held at the Bull Inn, and possesses an excellent library. There are also two Freemasons' Lodges, each of which has a large number of members.
Two newspapers are published here every Saturday: one by Mr. Brown, called the “Cambridge Chronicle;" the other, the “Independent Press,” by Mr. Hatfield.
John MORTLOCK, Esq. and Sons, in Bene't street:
draw on Smith, Payne and Co. London. Messrs. Fisher and Son, in the Petty Cury: draw
on Curries and Co. Cornhill, London. Messrs. Foster and Co. in Trinity street: draw on
Prescott, Grote and Co. Threadneedle street,
London. MR. HUMFREY, in Trumpington street: draws on
Prescott, and Co. Threadneedle street, London. MR. BARKER, in Trinity street: draws on Sir J. W.
Lubbock, and Co. Mansion - House street,
London. The Post OFFICE is in Sidney street. every morning at half-past seven from the 6th of April to the 5th of October, and at eight o'clock from the 5th of October to the 6th of April ; and shuts at half-past nine at night.
As few things contribute more to the comfort and pleasure of travelling than good Inns, we shall enumerate those where the best accommodations are to be had. The following are the principal :
The Bull, Trumpington street.
MIDSUMMER, OR POT-FAIR,
Is held annually on a common near Jesus College, called Midsummer Green; it commences on Midsummer eve, and continues four days. This fair is said to have originated with certain large assemblages of children and others; which circumstance attracting the notice of the pedlars, they began to dispose of their merchandise on this spot as early as the reign of Henry I. The principal article now brought here for sale is earthenware, whence it obtained the appellation of Pot-Fair. Rows of booths are also erected for the sale of china, drapery, toys, &c. and on the principal day there is a large fair for horses. It is proclaimed on the 22d of June, by the ViceChancellor and chief officers of the University, and by the Mayor and Corporation successively. The charter was granted by King John, and confirmed by Henry III., in 1228.
Another, called Garlick Fair, was formerly kept here; it was granted by Henry VI., in 1438, to the Nuns of St. Rhadegund, and held in Jesus-lane, on the 15th of August, and two following days; but it is now gone to decay.
This once celebrated fair, anciently called Steresbridge or Stourbridge, but now usually called Sturbitch Fair, is held in a field about a mile distant from
Cambridge, a little to the east of Barnwell. This Fair was connected with the Old Hospital of Lepers, at Steresbridge, the remains of which still exist. In an Inquisition held in the third year of Edward the 1st, (1274) it was found that there was a certain fair belonging to the said Hospital, at the Feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, held within its precincts by grant from King John, for the use and maintenance of the Lepers, and which fell in September. In the reign of Henry IV. John Arondell, Chaplain of the free Chapel of Steresbridge, claimed a right of stallage within its precincts from all persons merchandizing there; and upon a hearing in the Exchequer the privilege was adjudged to him as having been enjoyed by his predecessors. The field where the fair is annually held, is above half a mile square, bounded by the river Cam on the north, and the Stour on the east. The ground is marked out, on the 4th of September, by the Mayor and Aldermen, when the dealers are allowed to erect their booths ; and, on the 18th the fair is proclaimed by the ViceChancellor and other officers of the University, and the Mayor and Corporation of the Town. The time of its continuance is fourteen days.*
* In the year 1558, the University being through the fraudulence of a former time somewhat necessitous, were about to part with their privileges relating to this fair for a small sum; but Dr. Robert Brassey, the then Provost of King's College, preserved them to the University by his honourable and firm refusal.
This fair was formerly by far the largest in England. In the year 1605, the fair was first attended by hackney coaches from London; and the multitudes of people assembled in some years have been so great, that upwards of sixty coaches have plied at one time. But diminished as the general trade of this once-celebrated mart is, through the great changes which have been introduced into the mode of conducting commerce, it still retains a large business in wool, hops, leather, cheese, and iron; and two days (September 25th and 26th) are set apart for the sale of horses. The booths are erected in regular streets, containing shops of numerous trades; and, in favourable weather, a large concourse of people attend from several miles round.
There is a court for the prompt administration of justice during the fair, in which the Mayor, or his deputy, determines controversies, and preserves de
There is also a court of the Commissary and Proctors for the sealing of weights and measures; and the hops, leather, &c. sold at the fair, are weighed in the Taxors' scale.