St Winnold’s Day Parade in Downham Market

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-193919009

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-193919009

A stunning shire horse led a popular parade to celebrate Downham’s heritage.

Bernard the Suffolk Punch and Teddy, from West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled Association, headed the St Winnold’s Day Parade when it wound its way around the town on Friday last week.

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-193930009

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-193930009

Mayor John Fox was joined by scores of dignitaries from across the eastern region who worked up an appetite for the traditional breakfast by processing to the town hall.

The parade celebrates the town’s history as a key horse trading centre, thought to be one of the largest in Europe, through the old St Winnold’s Fair.

The town’s first market charter was granted by Edward the Confessor in 1046, 20 years before the Battle of Hastings and the start of the Norman Conquest.

Mr Fox was pleased with the day’s success.

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. pictured In centre King's Lynn's Town Mayor Colin Manning. ANL-160318-194120009

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. pictured In centre King's Lynn's Town Mayor Colin Manning. ANL-160318-194120009

He said: “It was really very well done and thanks to everyone who was involved.

“We have been doing the parade of the 10 to 12 years.

“It is an attraction to see some beautiful horses walking up the street and the parade.

“We started the parade to re-establish links with the town’s past.

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-194014009

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. ANL-160318-194014009

“It was a great pleasure to welcome so many people to Downham.”

Bernard, who represents Church Farm at Stow Bardolph, has been leading the parade for around six years.

The estate’s Debbie Benns said: “Bernard is the face of Church Farm and we like to support the local community.”

He was followed this year by Teddy, who is a relatively new arrival at the Magpie Centre in Wallington Hall and his new carriage.

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. pictured Downham's Town Crier Ray Wales. ANL-160318-194058009

Downham Market St Winnold's annual parade. pictured Downham's Town Crier Ray Wales. ANL-160318-194058009

The 15 2hh Welsh Section D horse is proving to be popular with clients and staff after being purchased with donations made by the Flux Family Fund, the Florence Clarke Fund and Lynn Rotary Club.

The parade set off the town council offices in Paradise Road.

The procession, which also included the mace bearer, took in the town’s market, where Fr James Mather blessed the markets.

Scores of youngsters and adults lined the streets around the market to enjoy the procession as it headed to the town hall.

While Bernard and Teddy headed back to their paddocks, the dignitaries sat down to a sumptuous full English breakfast, which was supplied by the market traders.

Mr Fox said: “The idea of the breakfast relates to the days when we had the St Winnold’s Fair, which was the largest horse fair in Europe.

“The horse traders had a large breakfast so it did not interfere with the day’s trading.”

It is believed that some of the horses which took part in the Crimean War action commemorated in Tennyson’s poem Charge of the Light Brigade were bought in Downham.