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Royal visitor to launch 800th anniversary weekend

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A weekend of celebrations to mark the 800th Anniversary of the award of a Royal Market Charter to Melksham by King Henry III in 1219 will get under way with a royal visitor to the town.

Duke of Gloucester

The Duke of Gloucester will visit Melksham on the morning of Friday 27th September to unveil a commemorative plaque for display in the town’s Market Place. The plaque has been commissioned from local stonemason, Jim Wheel at Sandridge Stone.

The charter allows the town to hold a Tuesday market – which exists to this day – and a Michaelmas Fayre at the end of September.

During his visit, the Duke will also view work produced by local school children in the Town Hall and the handmade historical banners and flags produced by local volunteers.

Weekend events also include a Town Criers’ competition; a 23-course medieval banquet and a medieval tournament and festival with archery, strolling musicians, sword training, courtly dancing and a medieval combat. The medieval banquet and the Sunday Fayre has been planned to bridge the historical gap over the centuries from the time the Market Charter was awarded 800 years ago to today.

The Duke’s visit is particularly significant because the nine-year-old King Henry – who granted the Charter in 1219 – was hastily crowned in Gloucester Cathedral just nine days following the death of his father, John. At the time he was being protected at Devizes Castle because this was the time of the First Baron’s War. Melksham was a royal hunting forest – a fact retained as part of the town to this day.

Events over the celebratory weekend are: • Saturday 28th September – day: a Town Criers’ competition in the Market Place; evening; a 23-course medieval banquet in the Assembly Hall; • Sunday 29th September afternoon – A Medieval Tournament on the King George V Park.

Host for the visit, Nick Westbrook said, “ We have tried to celebrate the anniversary with a range of activities for all ages – most of them free to attend.  We have received many compliments about the flags and banners that are decorating the town and for the quality of the floral displays in the town this year.

“The visit of a royal Duke, the Queen’s cousin, adds something extra special  to the celebrations.”
Tickets for the Medieval Banquet are available from the Assembly Hall, Melksham 01225 709887 or online from www.ticketsource.co.uk/bookings/t-mayppz

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