Swaffham set to celebrate 800 years of 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

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A packed programme of events is set to take place around Swaffham this weekend to mark the official 800th anniversary of the town’s market.

Although the exact date of its foundation isn’t known, the earliest written reference to the market is known was in June 1215, during the reign of King John.

He ordered the market to be scrapped if it was felt to be affecting a similar market in nearby Dunham.

But, eight centuries later, activities will be taking place around the town tomorrow and on Sunday to mark the anniversary.

The traditional market will take place, as usual, in the Market Place tomorrow, while an auction will take place there from 11am on Sunday, in aid of the skatepark and multi-use games area (MUGA).

Items to go under the hammer should be brought to the market between 7 and 10am.

Elsewhere, there will be live entertainment at the Buttercross from 10am until 3pm on both days, with performers being introduced by the town crier, Nigel Wilkin.

There will also be a children’s treasure hunt on Saturday, facepainting and the chance to take aim with a wet sponge at some guest prisoners at 11.30am each day.

And a re-enactment of the moment when the king ordered the abolition of the market will be staged at the historic monument at 2pm on both days.

There is also a full programme of events on the Campingland, between 10am and 5pm each day, with highlights including living history activities, archery and falconry displays.

The Swaffham library is running free themed sessions for children tomorrow morning, and admission to the town museum will also be free throughout the weekend.

Visitors can also stroll around the town’s new market trail, to learn more about the history of the market, and the town trail created by pupils of the Sacred Heart School, which offers information about many of the town’s most historic buildings.

And there will be live music in the Red Lion pub on both evenings, plus a charity auction, in aid of the East Anglian Children’s Hospices (EACH) in Plowright Place on Sunday, between 10am and 2pm.