A HAMPSHIRE village will be the spectacular setting tomorrow for one of the country's oldest horse fairs.

The Wickham Horse Fair is a tradition that is as old as the village itself.

It is an action packed event that attracts hundreds who come from all corners of the country to talk about all things equine, trade secrets, have a laugh and make a sale or two.

The fair is one of just two major horse trading events in the country. And it can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was awarded a royal charter.

The village streets will be lined with scores of spectators watching the age old tradition of riding ponies along the winding streets.

Members of the horse fraternity are expected to start trotting into the village tonight ready for an early start tomorrow.

The equestrian invasion is welcomed by Wickham Parish Council which plays a major role in what is one of the biggest events on the village's social calendar.

The parish council's vice-chairman Councillor Sue Roger-Jones said: "It is something that we have all been brought up with and it is all part of traditional England."

A team of parish councillors will be up at the crack of dawn to serve full English breakfasts to the police, RSPCA and St John Ambulance officials who will be on duty to make sure that the whole event runs smoothly.

The Square will be closed to traffic from early in the morning until approximately 7pm.

The A334 Fareham Road from the A32 School Road junction to the Blind Lane junction will also be closed.

Residents with properties closest to the event have been given permits to allow them access through the closure points.

Visitors to the horse fair are being advised to arrive early and should come into Wickham from the north.

There will be no vehicular access to the horse fair from the A32 during the closures.

Motorists who are not going to the fair are advised to avoid the Wickham area on the day and to allow extra time for their journeys.

A major change to the fair this year is that arrangements have been made for horse boxes to be parked on the east side of the A334 between the north end of Wickham Square and the junction at Blind Lane.

There will be no facility for parking horse boxes in any other area this year.

Any vehicle parked in an unauthorised place will be towed away.

Fareham police sergeant Neil Jenkins said: "I would ask that anyone planning to attend the horse fair takes careful note of these arrangements and plans for their journey and attendance accordingly."