The Hand & Shears is a pub of great antiquity, locally known as the "Fist & Clippers." Cloth traders did a brisk business at the annual St. Bartholomew's fair -- a prime source of revenue to the church, which was granted the profits accruing to the fair under the charter of Henry I.

Besides its importance as a public house, providing beer and food to hungry fair-goers, the Hand & Shears hosted the Court of Pie Powder (from the French pied poudre). This court arbitrated between fair-goers and merchants during the fair. Robert Wilkinson provides this sketch in Londina Illustrata:

The caption reads: Pye Powder Court, Cloth Fair, West Smithfield. This court is held at a Public House, known by the Sign of the Hand and Shears, the corner of Middle Street and King Street, as exhibited in the Vignette. The scene above, is descriptive of the Court held in the dining room, where the judge, attended by his secretary, is determining a cause between two histrionic complainants, respecting some Injury sustained in the neigbouring fair of St. Bartholomew, by one of the parties. (London, Published 1811, by R. Wilkinson, No. 56, Cornhill)

Read a review of the Hand & Shears here.

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