Holkham Country Fair - how it was started 40 years ago by the 7th Earl of Leicester

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.

The Holkham Country Fair, taking place this weekend, is one of East Anglia's most popular celebrations of rural life.

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 people are expected to head to the Holkham Estate, near Wells, on Saturday and Sunday to enjoy some of the region's traditional rural pursuits.

And from its debut year, 40 years ago, the fair has been popular.

Our pictures from the first Holkham Country Show, in 1977, show large crowds filling the Holkham Estate's stunning grounds.

The fair was established that year by the 7th Earl of Leicester, Edward Coke, with the aim of inspiring a passion for country life in children.

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.

A scene from the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: LIBRARY.


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It was four years after he had inherited the Holkham Estate,

Lord Leicester died three months before the last Holkham Country Fair, in 2015, during which his son Tom, now the eighth Earl of Leicester, paid tribute to him.

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He said: 'My father was a great countryman and before moving to this part of Norfolk he was brought up in the bush in Africa, where he would hunt for the table.

'Today's show reflects the good things about the countryside that many of us enjoy - a wholesome way of life, country pursuits and good, fresh, local, seasonal food and drink.

The seventh Earl of Leicester, who started the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The seventh Earl of Leicester, who started the Holkham Country Fair in 1977. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

'There can be fewer more fitting testaments to my father than us carrying on with the show.'

Although the Holkham Country Fair has evolved over the years, Lord Leicester's original ideology for it remains true today.

Organiser Sarah Green said: 'We've added new things, but it's important to keep it about encouraging children to enjoy the countryside. 'It's why we give free entry to under 14s.'

This weekend's fair will be opened on both days with a parachute display by the Royal British Legion's Jump4Heroes team.

A scene from the last Holkham Country Fair, in 2015. Picture: Ian Burt

A scene from the last Holkham Country Fair, in 2015. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Dog displays, Second World War aircraft, Cossack warriors, the Red Arrows (weather permitting) and some of the region's finest food and drink will also feature.

Mrs Green said: 'People love the traditional elements to the fair - they bring people back every two years.

'There will be people who came to the first show as children, back here now with their own children and grandchildren.'

For more information, visit www.holkhamcountryfair.co.uk

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