History of King’s Teignton Ram Roasting Fair
THE RAM ROASTING FAIR at Kingsteignton is a very old festival which has probably survived from the Middle Ages and has much to suggest that it is of even greater antiquity. The main feature is the roasting whole of the carcass of a ram in the open air. Legend has it “that once upon a time” there was drought in Kingsteignton. There was no water for drinking, indeed there was not enough to baptise a child. A child needing baptism, the villagers went down into the dry bed of the stream where the stones stood bare and sacrificed a ram. Water sprang up at the spot, the baby was baptised and the supply of water restored. In thanksgiving and as a valid excuse for merrymaking the roasting of a ram at Whitsuntide became customary and has continued up to the present day.
So runs the legend, but the true origins of the Fair have been lost in the mists of time. Many of the old traditions associated with the Fair, such as the procession of the ram through the village and the turning off of the Fairwater Leat, have fallen by the wayside. Traditionally the Fair started after evening prayers on Whit Sunday, when the leat was turned out to run along the natural course of drainage through Crossley Moor to Oakford. On Whit Monday the leat would be cleaned out and the ram paraded around the village as money was collected for prizes for the events to be held the following day. On Whit Tuesday the Fair took place along Crossley Moor Road beside the dried up bed of the leat where the ram was roasted. Around 1883 the Fair was moved to a meadow site. Various fields hosted the Fair until a permanent home was found for it at Oakford Lawn in 1904.
Nowadays the Fair is no longer a three day festival and is held on Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
Courtesy of Richard Harris, Kingsteignton History Society
Photo taken during Kingsteignton Ram Fair 2018