Travellers and horse traders to flock to Lee Gap Fair

Lee Gap Fair at West Ardsley.
Lee Gap Fair at West Ardsley.

Travellers and horse traders are expected to flock to West Ardsley on August 24 for the country’s oldest chartered fair.

Lee Gap Fair, which has been held continuously since at least 1136, will be held on fields off Baghill Road on August 24 and September 17 when horses, ponies and donkeys will be bought and sold along with tack and equipment.

The fair is held by right of a charter granted by King Stephen that followed on from one, now lost, granted to monks at Woodkirk by King Henry I.

It is thought fairs may have been held in the area even longer than that as the land next to Tingley roundabout was used as a Viking parliament.

The original charter allowed for two three-day fairs at Woodkirk and in days gone by they were an important date in the calendar for wool and cloth merchants from across Europe.

After the dissolution of the monasteries, much of the land in Woodkirk, and the right to hold fairs, was brought by a Dr Lee who gave his name to the fair.In 1752 England adopted the modern calendar and since then the First of Lee is always held on August 24 and Latter Lee on September 17.

Coun Tom Leadley, the chairman of the Lee Fair Committee said: “Some of the visitors don’t see each other for much of the year and this is a chance for them to come together. We also get a lot of non-travelling people come along.”