The annual tradition, which dates back generations, saw Rev Esther Brazil of St Mary Magdalen give the blessing in a service led by the City Rector and introduced by the Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr James Fry.
The service ended with what was said to be a favourite hymn of the Showman’s Guild, ‘God Bless the Prince of Wales’, followed by two singings of the National Anthem – the first time the St Giles Fair congregation has sung ‘God Save the King’ since the 1950s.
— Tom Seaward (@t_seaward) September 3, 2023
City Rector, Rev Anthony Buckley of St Michael at the North Gate, told the Oxford Mail after the short ceremony on St Giles on Sunday (September 3): “I think it’s a special service because it reminds us of the heritage of the St Giles Fair.
“For me, the fair is one of those moments where Oxford relaxes and enjoys itself together; people of all backgrounds and all ages.”
READ MORE: City centre closures ahead of St Giles Fair
Opening Sunday afternoon’s ceremony, Cllr Fry told the story of how Elizabeth I watched the St Giles Fair from rooms in St John’s College in the 1560s.
This year, he said, the fair was ‘bigger and better than ever’. “It’s a wonderful event. They have brought the weather, so come and enjoy it tomorrow and Tuesday.”
The St Giles Fair opens on Monday and runs until Tuesday night.