Fact about England in October
In the old Roman calendars, October was the eighth month of the year and got its name from the word ‘Octo’ meaning eight.
The Saxons called it Wyn Monath because it was the season of wine making.
Lost Traveller Story
In Hampshire, in the eighteenth century, a Mr William Davis was riding home when a heavy fog surrounded him, and in no time at all he found that he had lost his way.
Suddenly, he heard the bells from his church start to ring, so he followed the sound and arrived safely home.
Later on he worked out that he must have been only a few yards away from chalk pits, where the ground had been dug deeply. Had he gone any further, he would have been killed.
When Mr Davis died in 1754, he left some money in his will. The money was to pay the bellringers to ring the church bells at 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on 7th October every year, to help travellers find their direction should they get lost on the same night he had been lost.
MOP Fairs (Hiring Fairs)
Michaelmas used to be the time for ‘Mop’ or Hiring Fairs. Servants and farm labourers would work from October to October and then go to the center of the village or town to hire themselves out again for the next year.
People looking for work would dress in their best clothes, and to let people know what work they wanted, they used to wear or carry some sign of their work. Maids, looking for work, would carry a small mop (that’s where we get the name Mop Fairs from), a shepherd had wool,a gardener had flowers and so on.
The new masters and mistresses would walk around the fair and talk to the people. When they had come to an agreement, they gave the servant a small token – maybe something like 5p. The servant would then remove the sign of his job and replace it with a bunch of brightly coloured ribbons to let everyone else know that he had been hired.
Mop Fairs Today
The custom remains today in some towns and villages around the country. Several towns in Warwickshire enjoy the spectacle and the fun from the holding of the annual mop fair.
In Stratford, which is home to one of the country’s biggest fairs, the mop became a funfair after World War I. On the first morning of the fair, which is almost always on or near 12 October, children of the town go on the rides of the funfair free of charge.