Weyhill was once famous throughout Britain for a fair which drew enormous crowds and was considered to be the largest in the land. It was famed in song and story and was the source of a number of folk songs; indeed, legend once held that Weyhill’s fair was the one that Johnny, of the old song, was so long at! Furthermore, it inspired that dramatic passage in Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, in which the drunken Henchard sells his wife and daughter to a sailor at ‘Weydon Priors’.
Regrettably, the fair, which may well have had its origins in pagan times, was discontinued in 1959. Whilst it included the sale of horses, leather, cheese and hops, it was for its sheep fair that Weyhill is best known. It is certainly appropriate that organ and keyboard sounds reverberate once again around the site of a former fairground!
Understandably, the Society decided to forge an association with the village history. The annual event had provided the derivation of a folk song, titled ‘Weyhill Fair’ and this was adopted by the Society as its signature tune. The piece has subsequently been re-arranged by Penny Weedon, as the ‘Weyhill March’, and by Steve Hubble, as the ‘Weyhill Overture’.
Another link was formed by the adoption of a sheep as an integral part of its logo and the Club has since ‘acquired’ a number of suitable mascots that usually attend the concerts and various other functions. The first to appear was ‘Ramsey’ but, following his temporary abduction, ‘Samson’ was introduced as his minder. Subsequently, the formidable figure of ‘Cameron’ (pictured above) – of Scottish descent – arrived on the scene, followed a little later by ‘Hamlet’. Somewhat overwhelmed by this influx, the Society was then obliged to advertise for a music-loving sheep dog! Two toy border collies responded to the appeal and are now ‘on duty’ on concert nights! (before you ask – we’re not all locked up … yet!).
Note: Further information about the village of Weyhill and its famous fair can be found here.