If the profit from the fair had actually fallen in about 150 years from £35 to £12, it would be reasonable to assume that the fair was declining. No other evidence, however, supporting this view has come to light. In fact for a long time after the dissolution of the monastery the fair continued to be an important centre of trade.  Two years after the execution of the last prior, Michael Stanhope obtained the lease of Lenton Fair for twenty-one years,1 the change from monastic to secular hands apparently making no difference to the business of the fair. Entries in account books of the time reveal that local gentry still made purchases there.2 By 1640 the sale of tobacco at the fair had become a profitable trade, for a licence for the purpose was considered cheap at 40s. 0d. each year.3 The Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission on the Manuscripts of Lord Middleton reveals that the boats employed by the Willoughby family in 1609 for conveying coal down the Trent to Gainsborough, were re-freighted with London goods for Lenton Fair.4 In 1646 an attempt was made by an alderman of Nottingham, into whose hands the fair had passed, to compel burgesses of Nottingham to close their shops while the fair was being held, in accordance with a charter of Henry II. When the Corporation passed a resolution to defend any burgesses troubled by the alderman, the attempt was discontinued.5 Three years after the Restoration, permission was granted by King Charles II to George Gregory, Esq., to hold another fair at Lenton every year on the Wednesday next after the Feast of Pentecost and on the six several days following.6 References to Lenton Fair after this date do not always distinguish between the original Martinmas fair and this second fair. It would appear that at the end of the 17th century, Lenton Fair had acquired, even in France, a reputation as a great fair for all sorts of horses. J. T. Godfrey, writing in 1884, records the holding of fairs on the Wednesday in Whitsun week and on St. Martin's day only. Largely frequented by farmers and horse-dealers, the fairs enjoyed a considerable reputation for the sale of horses and cattle. Even at the beginning of the 20th century a number of horse-dealers brought horses for sale during Whit-week on a piece of land at the corner of Derby Road and Faraday Road. The purchase of land for the building of houses brought Lenton fairs to an end.

Reference to a statement by Deering concerning the great Martinmas fair at Lenton forms a fitting conclusion to this section. It emphasises the fair's important function while fairs were still an integral part of England's commercial organisation, and at the same time points to a reason for the decline in the trade of Lenton Fair.

“Our Nottingham Shopkeepers till within 60 years last past, did not venture to go long journeys but depended upon the great annual Martin-mass Fair at Lenton, a village about a mile distant from Nottingham where they used to buy their Mercers Drapers Grocers and all sorts of goods they wanted brought thither by the Londoners and others ; and when first they attempted to travel to London, they would take leave of their Relations and Friends (as I am informed) in as much Form as if they were never to see them more, and many before they set out, did settle their houses, and make their wills : But now they are no more concerned at going to the Metropolis and other Distant and Manufacturing Towns than they were formerly to go a journey of 12 or 20 miles. This late Spirit has given them an opportunity of buying their Commodities at best Hand and contributed much to the increase of the number of Wholesale Dealers in Nottingham whilst Lenton Fair is dwindled to a most inconsiderable market.”7

It is interesting to note that Nottingham shopkeepers, before improvement in transport robbed fairs of their original importance, relied for their supplies not upon Nottingham Goose Fair but on the Martinmas Fair at Lenton. Lenton Fair also has a good claim to be regarded as older than Goose Fair. There is a charter of Henry II to show that Lenton Fair was established by 1164. No mention of Goose Fair by name has come to light earlier than 1541.8 Among the Willoughby accounts of 1542 is the following entry: “Item at Gosefeyr [=Goose Fair] at Not[tingham] for ij payre of treyses [trousers] Viijd.”9 It is true that a charter of Edward I of 1283-4, besides granting Nottingham a fair of fifteen days beginning on November 20th, refers to a fair already in existence, held yearly from September 21st to September 29th. This would appear to be Goose Fair in fact, if not in name,10 but the date of its establishment is not given.

(1) Letters and Papers of Henry   V 111, 1540, p. 294.
(2) Godfrey: pp. 312-313.
(3) Godfrey: p. 314.
(4) p.175. There are numerous references to the coal trade in the report mentioned. See also H. Green: “The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Coalfield before 1850,” Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society journal, 1935.
(5) Godfrey: p. 315. Records of the Borough of Nottingham., Vol. V, pp. 244, 245, 256, 262, 319.
(6) Godfrey: p. 315.
(7) Deering: Nottingham vetus et Nova, 1751, p. 91.
(8) Guilford: Nottingham, p. 90.  Bor. Rec. of Nottm., III, p. 392.
(9)  Report on Manuscripts of Lord Middleton, p. 392.
(10) Borough Records of Nottingham, Vol. I Guilford: Nottingham, p. 90.