St James’s fair in Bristol was a wonderful microcosm of Georgian life. The Georgians were globally aware, acquisitive and had a hearty appetite for entertainment and vice. Madge Dresser and Steve Poole explore different aspects of this social occasion; from trade and entertainment, both local and exotic, to thievery and debauchery. The fair caught the attention of moral reformers who viewed it as an arena symbolic of the cheating and corruption which they so fervently opposed.
The end of Newgate saw the beginning of an arduous struggle between the Bristol Corporation and some of Bristol’s leading citizens. The episode draws attention to the inner workings of contemporary municipal government in Bristol and leaves us with more questions than answers about the nature of the Bristol Corporation. Treading the line between a public and a private organisation, the conduct of the Corporation paints a picture of out-dated paternalism, characterised by wealth, far-reaching influence and self-interest.