20,000 Sheep


Windows into History

"Shepherdess Tending Sheep" by Winslow Homer. “Shepherdess Tending Sheep” by Winslow Homer.

Snippets 112. During the 19th and early 20th Centuries a sheep fair was held annually at Westbury, near Salisbury. At the tail end of the 19th Century it had become a huge affair, with nearly 100,000 sheep. In fact it resulted in some cause for concern when school attendance suffered greatly, with all the children wanting to be off school seeing the sheep! By the time Richard Le Gallienne visited Salisbury and wrote his travel journal (Travels in England), in 1900, the fair was starting to decline, but was still quite an impressive sight.

On the morning I was to leave Salisbury, I was awakened by a running murmur of plaintive sound. The street was sad with the cry of driven sheep. The downs were thus rolling by every avenue into the city, and twenty thousand sheep were to…

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