Saturday, September 29, 2012

Michaelmas Mop Fair

Today is Michaelmas day so we decided to visit Little Moreton Hall  and join in the fun of the  Michaelmas Mop Fair.  Michaelmas takes its name from the feast of St Michael the Archangel. In Tudor times Michaelmas was the celebration of the end of the harvest and over four days the change of the season was celebrated. 

Michaelmas was also one of the quarter days on the year's calendar so it was the time of year when tithes were paid, when rent was due and when servants were hired and paid.  Some people who didn't have money paid with a fattened goose.

It was also a time of feasting and geese became the favourite as they were fat and ready to eat at this time of year.  It was thought it was lucky to eat goose at Michaelmas and many Goose fairs were held at this time of year too, some towns and cities like Nottingham still have their Goose Fairs although quite different now.

In the dining parlour was the Grateful Goose!  There is an old saying  'He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day, shan't money lack or debts pay.'    As this one was made of paper I don't think he will make the dining table except as a centre piece.

The tradition of hiring servants at Michaelmas led to the creation of 'Mop Fairs' where prospective servants would seek out work by walking about carrying or wearing a symbol of their trade.  I chose to carry the symbol of a milk maid and Paul that of a baker.   Paul was hired and given a ribbon to say he was employed, there were enough milk maids so I didn't get employed!  We were told it was almost a death warrant to not get employed as it could lead to absolute destitution.  Oh, dear!!

No fattened goose for me at the Mop Fair festivities!

There were plenty of others activities and interesting costumed people to talk to.

You could make corn dollies ........ if only you could find the corn dolly maker

Ah, there he is!

and here is one of the milkmaids who did get employment!

We had a lovely afternoon, the sun shone for most of the time.

People were lunching outside.  We sat in and ate tasty cheese and chutney sandwiches with a mug of coffee.  As usual I took far too many photos so below is a little collage of some of the other things that caught my eye.

Happy Weekend, everyone!


  1. I would have employed you - you would make a great milk maid! That looks a lovely day out Rosie. x

  2. What a fantastic old place. It must be wonderful inside as well.

    This is a really interesting post Rosie. I'd never appreciated the history of Michaelmas. Thank you.

    Although I'm rather too fond of geese to eat them!

  3. This looks like such a fun day! I think you would have been a lovely milk maid! I didn't realise that today is Michaelmas day. I think that you are not supposed to pick blackberries after today - something to do with them being cursed by the devil after he fell into a bramble bush! The paper goose would make a splendid table centrepiece.x

  4. I love Little Moreton Hall. But I have to admit the only thing I know about Michaelmas is daisies!

  5. Wasn't the weather great today such a contrast to the weather earlier in the week. Looks like you had a fab day out.

  6. Looks like a wonderful and interesting day. I loved hearing about Michaelmas Day and the custom of eating goose.
    Thanks or the great images too


  7. What a gorgeous hall.
    I knew practically nothing about Michaelmas - thank you!

  8. I really must try and get there one day, it's been on my list for ages! What a fabulous day you had and thank you for the lovely pictures and info to go with them. x

  9. I ought to have known about that , being a member of the NT and being so close to Little Moreton Hall. I did enjoy learning about the relevance of the goose and mop fairs. Shame you did not get hired though, never mind, I am sure the baker will save you a crust!

    1. They are doing it all again today, Valerie if you get a chance to pop up there:)

  10. Oh what fun! I've always wanted to go to Little Moreton Hall, and I'm not sure I had ever heard of a Mop Fair. Sorry you didn't get hired, hope you don't starve, LOL.

  11. What a wonderful day that sounds! I knew it was Michaelmas Day and knew about it and the goose and other traditions but I had no idea that anywhere (especially locally) still did anything to remember the old events.

  12. Looks like a great day. I think Little Moreton Hall is gorgeous. I went there a few years ago when my parents still lived in the Manchester area. Your post brought back lots of lovely memories. Jx

  13. Saint Michal must be very popular, there was a fair in his honour in the village next to mine too!
    Looks like you had a fantastic time!

  14. You always take us to the neatest places Rosie. This looks wonderful. I especially love the leaded glass windows!

    Hugs from Holland ~

  15. How lovely you really do do some great things with your time. Gorgeous buildings and such a good idea to hold a Mop Fair. Sorry you didn't get employed! You obviously didn't flutter your eyelashes enough.

  16. Great post Rosie, I knew nothing about Michaelmas! Interesting how the connection with debts and rents survives to this day. Little Moreton Hall is a wonderful building and I love knot gardens. Must be great fun being one of the 'characters'!