Crowds in Downham Market come together for St Winnold’s Day celebrations

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market
The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The traditional St Winnold’s Day parade in Downham attracted hordes of people last Friday to celebrate the town’s trading past.

Civic leaders, schoolchildren and members of the public joined the horse-led procession from the town council offices to the town hall.

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The annual celebrations mark the town’s history as a key horse trading centre through the old St Winnold’s fair.

It was initially held outside the town, but moved into Downham in the 19th century and the town became one of the most important trading centres for horses in Europe.

It is believed that some of the horses which took part in the Crimean War action commemorated in Tennyson’s poem Charge of the Light Brigade were bought in Downham.

To mark the town’s special equine links, the parade was led by Bernard, a shire horse from the Church Farm rare breeds centre at nearby Stow Bardolph.

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

Among the civic leaders present were borough mayor David Whitby and Downham mayor Marion Ross, who both made speeches for the occasion outside of the town hall.

They were joined by RAF Marham Station Commander Group Captain Rich Davies, who represented the airbase.

Children from nearby schools were also invited to celebrate the day, and had put their creative skills on show as they brought horse figures with them which illustrated the equine significance of the event.

The St Winnold’s Day parade has been held in the town for more than 10 years now, with St Winnold being closely associated with Downham and featuring on the town’s sign.

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

Downham’s first market charter was granted by Edward the Confessor in 1046, 20 years before the Battle of Hastings and the start of the Norman Conquest.

Trading is still important in the town today, with regular weekly markets on the town hall car park and on the Town Square.

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market

The St Winnold's Parade from the Town Council Ofiice to the Town Hall Downham Market