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100 years of Norfolk's farming heritage celebrated at Norwich Cathedral

PUBLISHED: 12:21 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 09 May 2019

A special service at Norwich Cathedral celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Norfolk branch of the National Farmers' Union. Picture: John Newton / NFU

A special service at Norwich Cathedral celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Norfolk branch of the National Farmers' Union. Picture: John Newton / NFU

John Newton / NFU

A special service was held at Norwich Cathedral as part of the centenary celebrations for Norfolk's branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

Members of the Loddon and Norwich NFU branch, along with county office holders and guests, attended choral Evensong, which included agricultural themes.

About 70 worshippers were welcomed by the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, who was also president of the Royal Norfolk Show two years ago.

The service also celebrated Julian of Norwich, and included the traditional farmers' hymn, "We plough the fields and scatter."

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The 24-strong choir sang an anthem of words by Dame Julian, set by Ashley Grote, the cathedral's Master of Music. Dame Julian's book, The Revelations of Divine Love, is thought to be the first written by a woman in English, which has survived.

During the service, the congregation was invited to follow the choir in procession down the nave through the cathedral's great west door when the Dean led brief prayers in front of Dame Julian's statue. During this brief interlude, the rain stopped and the sun shone. Five guides showed the party around the cathedral before refreshments were served.

Branch chairman William Turner urged fellow members to support the NFU's "Farming Forever" grand ring display at next month's Royal Norfolk Show. He said volunteers would be most welcome.

In closing, Norfolk NFU chairman Nick Deane said farmers had joined forces 100 years ago to seek fair prices and returns for home-grown food.

As the industry faces challenges of more political and economic uncertainty, the role of the NFU was just as important today as it was in the days immediately after the First World War, he said.

He reminded his audience that farming was plunged into a terrible depression in summer 1921 when government scrapped all price support without any warning in what became known as "The Great Betrayal."

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