Downham Market’s historic trading links marked at St Winnold’s Day parade
A West Norfolk town’s historic trading links have been remembered on one of the key events in its calendar.
Officials, civil dignitaries and schoolchildren joined a procession in Downham on Friday to celebrate St Winnold’s Day, which remembers the town’s historic horse fair.
St Winnold’s Parade celebrates the fair, which was said to have been one of Europe’s biggest, and the town’s Friday and Saturday markets.
These markets were granted in 1046 and confirmed by Edward the Confessor in a charter of 1053.
Among the officials who joined the parade, led by Suffolk Punch Bernard from Church Farm Rare Breeds Centre in Stow Bardolph, were borough mayor Carol Bower and town mayor Frank Daymond.
Mrs Bower said: “Downham revived the Horse Fair this century and I think it’s wonderful that they did, and the reenactment remembers our dependence on horses.
“In my childhood my great uncle had Clydesdales –horses had far more prominence and horse fairs were extremely important. Of course it would have lasted for quite a few weeks.
“The fact that St Winnold’s, which is embedded in Downham’s history, has actually been remembered is absolutely fabulous.
“Children are here today as well, it’s really for them to carry it on. If we are enthusiastic about it, they will be too.”
Initially held outside the town, the horse fair moved into Downham in the 19th century and made it one of the most important trading centres for horses in Europe.
St Winnold, the sixth century Cornish saint whose day, March 3, is associated with the town’s three-day horse fair.
Mr Daymond said thousands of horses were bought prior to war time in the 1900s.
He said: “Five years before the First World War, a lot of horses involved were purchased in Downham by the foreign countries. This history is something Downham has that nobody else has.”