History of RNAA’s trophy, awarded at the 1850 show in Norwich.

A trophy won by a Norfolk landowner more than 163 years ago was originally presented by show supporters in Norwich.

The best bull at the 1850 Norfolk Show, held at the Cricket Ground, won the Norwich Plate, entered by Lord Hastings, of Melton Constable Hall.

The show report in the Norwich Mercury (June 22) noted that the first prize awarded by the Norfolk Agricultural Association went to a Shorthorn bull. 'It will be seen was borne off by Lord Hastings, whose bull was one of the best ever seen in this county, both in form and in handling.'

Lord Hastings, chairman of the first Norfolk Show in 1847, also won a premium or special prize of £2. At the show dinner, the president, the Earl of Leicester, said that the silver tankard had given by some of the inhabitants of Norwich. It was presented to Mr F Astley because Lord Hastings had unfortunately been 'prevented by ill health from being present'.

It appears to have been won outright in the days before perpetual trophies. Now, it has been acquired by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

Norwich silversmith Leona Levine said that the George III silver tankard, which has a 1785 London hallmark and was made by Thomas Liddiard, holds about a quart. It was later embellished with elaborate 'chasing' in the 1840s, with features including a horse, possibly a Norfolk Trotter or Hackney, and a plough on the domed lid of the tankard.

It weighed 26.7 ounces but she was not possible to say with certainty when this additional decoration was added.

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n On a historical note, the Norfolk Agricultural Association was formed on January 23, 1847, by the amalgamation of the West Norfolk and East Agricultural Association, effected at the Swan Inn, St Peter Mancroft, following a general meeting of members of both organisations held earlier that day.

The East Norfolk Agricultural Society was established for the protection of agriculture in 1825 and the West Norfolk Agricultural Association in 1834. In that year, the East Norfolk was reformed for the express purpose of promoting an annual agricultural show.

The first show of the new association was held on the Cricket Ground, Norwich, in June 1847.

It became a two-day show in 1865 and exceptionally a three-day show was held in 1893, in Norwich, which attracted a total attendance of 14,872 – ironically a smaller gate than at King's Lynn when 15,843 attended a year earlier.

It became the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association by order of King Edward VII in 1908.