SEE VIDEO: Star supports Swaffham Market’s 800th anniversary celebrations

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A new exhibition telling the story of Swaffham’s market has been unveiled by actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry.

The display at the town’s museum was launched on Saturday, when Mr Fry was given a private tour before meeting stallholders and shoppers in the market itself.

Stephen Fry with the competition winners from Nicholas Hamond Academy Swaffham, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross.'LtoR, Whitney May, Jessica Rees, Stephen Fry, Tab Kaye, Hannah Goodchild ANL-150707-151827009

Stephen Fry with the competition winners from Nicholas Hamond Academy Swaffham, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross.'LtoR, Whitney May, Jessica Rees, Stephen Fry, Tab Kaye, Hannah Goodchild ANL-150707-151827009

Declaring the exhibition open from the square’s historic Buttercross, he said: “What we are doing now is what has been done for the best part of 1,000 years.

“Right here people come in from around the county on a Saturday morning.

“It is remarkable – the rhythms of life that Norfolk aligns itself to more than any part of the world.”

The exhibition has been developed as part of the town’s celebrations of the market’s official 800th anniversary, which have received Heritage Lottery Fund support.

Stephen Fry  at the 800 stall, with Swaffham Mayor Anne Thorp (right) and Dave Bek (centre) Project co-ordinator 800, during his tour of Swaffham Market, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151805009

Stephen Fry at the 800 stall, with Swaffham Mayor Anne Thorp (right) and Dave Bek (centre) Project co-ordinator 800, during his tour of Swaffham Market, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151805009

The earliest known reference to a market in Swaffham dates from June 1215, when King John ordered its abolition, if it was deemed to be interfering with the market in nearby Dunham.

Museum manager Sue Gattuso said: “Stephen was enthralled by the exhibits and the quirky tales linked to the history of the market.

“He was especially amused that King John declared that the market would be closed if it were to interfere with the one at neighbouring Dunham.”

Mr Fry presented certificates to local school children who had taken part in a competition to design coats of arms, pennants and flags linked to the market.

Stephen Fry making a purchase of tomatoes during his tour of Swaffham Market, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151732009

Stephen Fry making a purchase of tomatoes during his tour of Swaffham Market, after launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151732009

He also met community leaders, members of the Town Team, who are organising the celebrations, and signed autographs for fans.

The museum’s exhibition will remain open until December and admission will be free during the town’s market anniversary celebrations next Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.

Stephen Fry  launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151838009

Stephen Fry launching the 800th anniversary celebrations at the Buttercross ANL-150707-151838009