Henry III gave a charter in 1270 to William and Joanna Braunche to hold a fair in Frome on the eve, day and morrow of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the 7th-9th September, and continued, with many breaks, over the years.
Today Frome Carnival continues this tradition, holding it's celebrations in September.
The present day Carnival was reborn in the late 1920's.
The year was 1927 and the place was Butler & Tanner printing factory in Frome. The scene took place at 2.30am in the staff room of the night shift who were having a 30 minute smoking break.
Three workers, Mr Roly Hall, Mr Bill Popjoy and Mr B Hemington, who had the previous Saturday seen the Bristol Rag Parade, were telling their colleagues about this fantastic show.
The conversation finished with 'Why can't we have one in Frome?'. And in the September, with the added help of Messrs. Fortune, Wright, Bennett, Hawkins, Cross and Hiscock, Frome held the first Rag Parade, albeit a very wet one. Butler & Tanner loaned their lorry for a hospital scene and there were many foot entries. A profit of £50 was divided equally between the Victoria Hospital and the Queens Nurses.
A second Rag Parade was held the following year together with a fund raising dance in the nearly new Memorial Hall. Profit of £60 was divided as in the previous year.
Being so successful, Mr Hawkins and Mr Wright decided that an annual event should be held called 'CARNIVAL', consisting of an afternoon and evening procession and enlisting the support of local organisations and leading citizens of the town.
The minutes show that the first committee meeting was held on 28th June 1929 in the Victoria Hospital and included members from Frome Rotary, Friendly Society, Girl Guides, Town Band and the Rag Committee which was chaired by Mr Hargreaves-Beare, a Frome Rotarian.
More representatives came forward and sub-committees formed including 'Ground & Route committee', 'Programmes', 'Advertising & Publicity', 'Competition & Sideshows' and 'Decorations'.
Within 3 weeks on July 19th, Mr Horsfield, a local garage proprietor in Cork Street said he would produce a new Austin car (costing £140) to raffle - £25 donated by the Austin Motor Co, £75 from an anonymous donor, £15 from local subscribers leaving £25 to be found by the committee.
from the committee meeting
Timber required to throw a temporary wooden bridge over the river in order to use an adjacent field to the Market Yard;
(A retired army Engineering Colonel was willing to supervise the construction).
Mr Daniel to be approached regarding the Yard and the field.
Prizes to be given in vouchers which could be exchanged in local shops; a Boxing Tournament; Ladies Football Match; Putting Competition; Sunday Concert; Baby Show and Ankle Competition; Tennis Tournament and Carnival Pencils to be produced to raise funds.
Mr Arthur Cornish, Carnival secretary, approached the Jennings Fair proprietor and offered a profit sharing contract, 6/8d in the pound of the profits for the Carnival Committee, together with the presentation of a cup for competitions.
Panniccia had offered 10 shillings to be allowed to sell ice-creams in the field. (A subsequent minute showed Mr Panniccia had sent a cheque for one guinea).
Frome United Brewery to be approached to use one of their lorries to transport the King & Queen.
By August 16th the committee had grown to 44 members.
The Carnival was to be held on September 28th. The first committee meeting was June 28th.
It took just three months to organise a Carnival.
A subsequent committee meeting was held on November 22nd 1929 when the treasurer reported a profit of £935-8s-11d.
Carnivals continued annually until 1939.
Although a Carnival Queen had been chosen the Carnival was actually cancelled in September 1939, due to the outbreak of war and the committee lost a large amount of money that year.
In 1945, Carnival started again with the same enthusiastic group, always their first priority was a donation to the Victoria Hospital and the Queens Nurses.
In 1948 when the government nationalised the health service including the hospitals, it was decided to set up a charity and on September 27th 1948 a Trust Deed was drawn up and named 'Frome Carnival Charities Association'. This called for five trustees, the founding trustees being: Arthur Cornish, who had been secretary since 1933 and who was the driving force after the war; Bert Scott, a garage proprietor and chairman of Frome Urban Council; Clifford Spittal, boss of 'Singers'; Nelson Read, boss of Wallbridge Cloth factory and George Creswick, Solicitor of Faulkners who drew up the Deed.
Extracts from the Deed included:
Charitable purposes for Inhabitants of Frome Urban and Frome Rural Districts councils
Covering assistance for education of a person
Convalescent or other medical reasons.
Homes for the elderly or disabled
Assisting the poor of the area etc. etc.
In 1974 due to the reorganisation of local government, the deed was amended to read 'the said former Frome Urban & Rural districts and the parishes of Chapmanslade & Corsley.'
Today the small number on the Carnival committee work a full 12 months to put the event on in September and Frome Rotary Club continue to assist with the collection on the day. The expenditure each year continues to increase covering such items as the Queen's floats, Queen's dresses, prizes for competitors and the queens, to insurance at around £1300 and numerous other small needs including safety barriers and communication radios.