A Brief History of the
Chipstead Village Flower Show and Fair
The Chipstead Village Flower Show and Fair is a remarkable combination of two events that have been celebrated in Chipstead Village for many years.
Although we are undoubtedly celebrating the 109th Chipstead Flower Show, The Chipstead Fair could easily have reached its 1009th anniversary! Nobody knows.
"Chipstead" is most likely a corruption of "ceapstede", a place where a market existed and is first mentioned in AD579. The first reference to a fair, rather than a market, is in 1549, when a fair was held on 20th July - St Margaret's day. On 20th July 1809 a painting by the famous landscape artist Peter de Wint shows Chipstead Fair in full swing on Fair Green along the High Road. It seems, however, that the fair was the scene of some notoriety that offended Victorian tastes and in 1854 the local gentry banded together to have it successfully "suppressed" by Reigate Police. By the late 19th century a Flower Show (perhaps a more genteel version of the old fair?) was being held locally, alternating between Chipstead, Chaldon, Merstham and Mugswell. In 1910 (109 years ago) the Flower Show was held in Chipstead (probably at Elmore) and has taken place annually in the village ever since. The nature of any fair in the latter half of the 19th century is unclear but the "Chipstead Fete and Flower Show" on 1st August 1914 included a band, stalls and swings and there are other references to The Flower Show and Fair coexisitng throughout the 20th century. The Fair seems not to have taken place in times of war.
These days the Chipstead Village Flower Show and Fair is held at Elmore on a Saturday in mid July by kind permission of the Revd John Wates. In 2019 the show will take place on Saturday 20th July, St Margaret's Day, 210 years to the day from the date of de Wint's painting.