Borough to celebrate freedom

Anthony Carroll This weekend sees Yarmouth get in the party mood as the resort begins to celebrate one of the most important events in its history.

Anthony Carroll

This weekend sees Yarmouth get in the party mood as the resort begins to celebrate one of the most important events in its history.

Hundreds of people are expected to line the streets of the town on Sunday for the 800th anniversary of King John granting the town a market charter - making it a free borough.

The charter enabled the small medieval community to spread its wings and become one of the most vital trading centres in England.

As part of a year-long series of charter celebrations, a colourful procession, made up of voluntary groups and organisations, will set off from the town hall on Sunday at 2.45pm to St Nicholas' Church.

The procession will be led by the Winterton marine cadets band.

Most Read

Just before the parade, a messenger on horseback will deliver a copy of the 800-year-old document.

During a service at St Nicholas' Church from 3pm, the managing director of Yarmouth Borough Council, Richard Packham, will read out the charter.

Local historian Michael Boon will then give a talk on the importance of King John's decision to grant the charter, which is believed to have been given in recognition of the settlement providing soldiers for the monarch's wars.

The borough council's youngest member, 34-year-old Mark Thompson, and the borough's oldest freeman, 101-year-old Jack Chase, will then give their perspectives on what makes Yarmouth so special.

After the service there will be chance to toast King John's gift to the town with a special real ale brewed by the award-winning Blackfriars Brewery in Yarmouth.

To coincide with the launch of the charter party festival, a commem-orative tapestry banner detailing the history of Yarmouth will be unveiled at the Time and Tide Museum by Norfolk County Council chairman Michael Cartiss on Sunday.

From Tuesday, the actual charter will feature in a free historical exhibition of Yarmouth's heritage at the Norfolk Record Office at county hall until June.

The other main charter event this year will be a themed market from June 9 to 14 in the town centre.

The market coincides with a royal visit on June 9 to unveil commemorative charter plaques at St Nicholas' Church, the town hall and the Tolhouse museum.

Other events include a tie-in with Yarmouth's annual Easter fair from March 27 to 30.

During the fair, borough mayor Paul Garrod will be presented with a medieval-style key made by Ernie Childs of Yarmouth Potteries and which will then go on permanent display at the town hall.

On March 28 and 29, St Nicholas' Church will host a charter flower show and model fair.

Bert Collins, Yarmouth borough councillor organising the celebrations, said: "This anniversary is massively important for

Yarmouth and will give the whole town a lift."