A SHORT service bathed in evening sunshine gave blessing to St Giles’ Fair yesterday.

The Salvation Army played the hymns as three city churches hosted the annual tradition to bless the two-day event which starts at 11am.

The Very Revd Bob Wilkes from St Michael at the North Gate led the occasion with help from Revd Andrew Bunch of St Giles’ Church and Revd Peter Groves from St Mary Magdalen Church.

The crowds took part in the outdoor service held among fair rides and stalls and they sang along to hymns.

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The Salvation Army band – comprising members from Oxford and Reading’s bands – played Amazing Grace, Tell Out My Soul and Love Divine at the 5pm ceremony.

The traditional rendition of God Bless the Prince of Wales rung out across the fair before the national anthem closed proceedings.

Revd Bob Wilkes said: “It was fantastic and we were so blessed with the weather.

“The fair is a great occasion where everyone can come together and have fun.

“It’s an important part of the city life here.”

The fair took its form from the St Giles’ parish wake of the early seventeenth century, later known as St Giles’ Feast.

By 1830 it had become a fair to entertain both adults and children.

In 1930 the city corporation – now Oxford City Council – took over the control of the fair.

St Giles, Magdalen Street and other roads will be shut until 8.30am on Wednesday.

Lord mayor Rae Humberstone will officially open the annual fair, as thousands of visitors are expected to enjoy the variety of fairground rides including dodgems and carousel.