Hampshire’s unique characters, customs and traditions have been moulded by its long and rich history stretching back to the distant past.

Large Hampshire estates have been broken up over the years, towns have expanded, and remote farming communities have moved away from village life - and with these changes many of the rural events once celebrated have faded away.

In past times, such as the 18th century and even earlier, the annual calendar was governed by regular fairs, feasts and what were called “revels” and “merries” which brought communities together.

It was at these highly anticipated events that locals would proudly show off their athletic skills and sporting prowess in a varying array of physical activities, including participation in daring and somewhat perilous feats - all fuelled and strongly encouraged by a a great deal of alcohol.

In fact, the pubs and inns appeared to be at the centre of these revels and, at one time, Bishops Waltham was renowned for its 16 public houses where according to records “a great deal of sport and merriment” took place.

One favourite sport in Bishop’s Waltham which attracted large wagers saw young men riding horses at full gallop up the High Street and, as they passed a tobacconist shop, they would lasso an advertising statue in the shape of a young boy.

Back in the 13th century, King Henry III granted a charter to Wickham to hold an annual fair during the month of May each year.

The Wickham Horse fair still continues to this day and attracts huge crowds, especially members of travelling families eager to watch the riding, chat about equine matters and to even strike the occasional deal.

Because worker, labourers, servants and some craftsmen’s contracts with their employer would only cover October of one year to October of the following year, they would attend Hampshire’s Mop Fairs dressed in their best clothing, clutching an item which signified their particular skill.

The name for the event came from servants with no trade - they would carry a mop head with them.

Maids had to be strong, for they did all the brewing, milking, churning, washing, cleaning and cooking - and not just for their employer - but for their employer’s family as well as any unmarried men who worked on the farm.

To honour local blacksmiths, the ceremony of “Firing the Anvil” took place each year up to as late as 1880.

A small hole in an anvil was filled with gunpowder, covered with a plug, and then another small hole bored through that. A trail of gunpowder enabled this to be set alight with, and what was described as a “great noise and effect” would ensue.

Working people in Bursledon celebrated their “Club Day” by marching through the village to the local church where the parson preached a sermon and was paid a guinea (£1.05).

The procession would snake on to the small village green, with booths and coconut shies, and where a meal was served.

Another old tradition in Bursledon included football, cricket and tug o’ war, at an event in which farmers, along with their horses decked out in scarlet rosettes, ribbons and bells, would take the first threshing of wheat for the season to the local windmill.