Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

WHAT you can and can't do in public places reveals much about a society. For longer than anyone can remember, the village green at Horsmonden near Tonbridge in Kent has come alive on the second Sunday of September with the village's annual Horse Fair. Although its origins are not undisputed, the fair has been going for at least 100 years and is probably a good deal older.

True to the spirit of the great mediaeval fairs, which once provided countryfolk with their sole, annual opportunity for buying merchandise, the Horse Fair swells with gypsies selling horses, linen and lace.

This year, however, Horsmonden Parish Council decided that the fair was too much of an inconvenience for the well-heeled commuters who now inhabit the village. Citing parking problems, it voted to ban the event and persuaded Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to pass an order under the 1986 Public Order Act outlawing `trespassory assembly' on Horsmonden village green, even though the green has been common land for centuries. …

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