No one is sure whether the king was there or not but, on this day, King Henry VI gave Abbot Richard Ashton permission to hold an annual fair on St Matthew's Day and the two following days 'at the bridge of Peterborough by the River Nene, as well in the Country of Huntingdon as in the Country of Northampton, on all sides of the bridge'. Thus, the Peterborough Bridge Fair was born. After morning prayers, the notables of the city formed a procession and the town crier read the proclamation at the fairground. The modern proclamation dates back from 1878, and it asks all persons to 'behave soberly and civilly, and to pay their just dues and demands.' Since this foundation, the fair has always been opened by proclamation. Exactly 572 years later, the Peterborough press reported that 'fun lovers flocked to the official opening of the Bridge Fun Fair last night. The Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor Paula Thacker, led a procession from the Town Hall, in Bridge Street, to the entrance of the fair. After the official opening, the mayor returned to the Town Hall to host the traditional sausage supper.' (Tebbs, H.F., Peterborough, Oleander Press, 1979)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.