Buttercross, August 7, 2015: Market weekend can boost Swaffham

Swaffham Market 800th Anniversary celebrations,'tour of the market LtoR, Swaffham Mayor Cllr. Anne Thorp, Deputy Mayor Paul Darby, Elizabeth Truss, Gillian Shephard, and stall owner Stephen Ward from Wards Nurseries at Ringstead. ANL-150720-081241009

Swaffham Market 800th Anniversary celebrations,'tour of the market LtoR, Swaffham Mayor Cllr. Anne Thorp, Deputy Mayor Paul Darby, Elizabeth Truss, Gillian Shephard, and stall owner Stephen Ward from Wards Nurseries at Ringstead. ANL-150720-081241009

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An often quoted question is “Went the day well” and we can now modify it slightly to “Went the two days well?”

The answer coming back would undoubtedly be “Very well, thank you”, in relation to the recent weekend celebrating the official 800th anniversary of our market.

Some have been confused, as I was, by these celebrations when it was understood that King John had rejected the idea of our town having a market charter due to it lessening the viability of nearby Dunham’s, which was already in place.

The answer has to be that by the signing of Magna Carta, the Crown’s influence on such matters was surrendered and the people then had more say.

There was something special about that Saturday morning of the festival weekend. Certainly the weather was good but, as people came into the town centre, there was an extra air of expectancy about the place.

It is often said that Norfolk-born people, and perhaps Swaffham people in particular, need some time to embrace some things and this was one such occasion.

It was an earlier Bishop of Norwich who noted this fact, the gist of what he said being “ It is generally difficult to get Norfolk people to follow you, I have learned that the trick is to work out which way they are going, and then to try and walk in front of them.”

There were many events going on around us over the weekend and there was concern that visitor numbers might suffer, but we held our own and numbers attending were impressive.

A hearty vote of thanks has to be offered to our Town Team for the considerable amount of work they put in to this weekend, particularly David Wickerson who brought the whole thing to fruition. He must have had many sleepless nights.

We had many youngsters obviously enjoying the weekend. 16thCentury replica helmets, wooden swords, plastic breastplates and shields abounded.

Educationally perhaps some local history was also absorbed from this pretty turbulent period of our history, and our town played its part.

Our market has moved on through the ages, ever evolving. Perhaps, though, we have regressed somewhat recently with the size and quality of the market. An event like this might just give us that shot in the arm we require.