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Join the fayre fun at Mousehold Heath

PUBLISHED: 16:37 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 16:44 11 July 2014

Mousehold Heath.

Mousehold Heath.

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Today I am bringing you news of an event on Mousehold Heath - a place which is so special and one which has played a leading role in the life of the people for centuries.

The original Mousehold bandstand a hundred years ago.The original Mousehold bandstand a hundred years ago.

As an article of many moons ago revealed...

“On November 24 1783, in consequence of an advertisement in the Norwich papers, a vast concourse of curious and idle persons, said to amount to more than 6000, assembled on Mousehold Heath, to see an air balloon ascend, with a cat, a dog and a pigeon in its car.

“The balloon however was not visible and the multitude, as in the story of the King of France and his 40,000 men, ‘went up the hill, and then came down again.’”

In Norwich of the 21st century, in consequence of an advertisement in the Norwich papers, I hope many of you – and that includes the curious and idle – will head back up the hill again on Sunday July 27.

A place full of history

On the northern edge of Mousehold are some earthworks that are the site of St William’s Chapel.

For almost 400 years this was a place of pilgrimage prayer in honour of William of Norwich, a child whose body was found here in 1144 and who was buried at Norwich Cathedral Priory. Many believed, despite the lack of credible evidence, that the boy had been abducted and murdered by local Jews. This was the first recorded case of the notorious ‘Blood Libel’.

Several miracles were attributed to William leading to him being proclaimed a local saint by William Turbe, Bishop of Norwich. In 1168 he consecrated St William’s Chapel in his memory. It was believed to have been destroyed in the 1530s.

The whole site is a Protected Ancient Monument and cannot be excavated and so any chapel remains will remain hidden.

At Gallows Hill on Mousehold ecclesiastical delinquents suffered.

Thomas Tunstall, priest was hanged there in 1615 for treason. His head was set on a pole on St Benedict’s Gate, and his four quarters placed on four other gates.

Francis Briggs, curate of Barnham Broom, was hanged there in 1637 for murdering his female servant, named Hunt, who came from Earlham.

There will be no balloon rides with a cat, a dog and a pigeon but there will be a dog show, a falconry display and a whole host of other events and attractions staged for the Mousehold Fayre, organised by the Mousehold Heath Defenders and supported by the Mousehold Heath Conservators, two groups which do such splendid work looking after and protecting this unique piece of ancient countryside in Norwich.

The whole idea of this special day is to have a good day out along with raising some money to provide an information plaque for St William’s Chapel which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

And the commemoration of 100 years since the start of the First World War will be marked by an information stall manned by the Defenders, a display of war memorabilia by teenager Ethan Harvey, and the armed forces charity, SSAFA, will have a stall and display.

To add to the atmosphere, the Community Choir will be sing First World War songs and the music will be provided by the Hellesdon and Sprowston Brass Band. They will play The Last Post at 3pm to remember the fallen and a raffle will raise money for Help for Heroes.

The Mousehold Fayre will take place on Sunday July 27 from 11am to 5pm and will be opened by the Lord Mayor of Norwich Judith Lubbock.

The Norfolk Falconry group will be staged displays along with the Bollywood Sparkles. Timeless Punch and Judy will be there along with a dog show and various stands telling the story of the Norwich History Club, the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Society and the Hawk and Owl Trust.

There will be something for the whole family. There is very little parking so try to walk to the Fountain Group on Gurney Road where all the action is. Entrance is free with free or low-cost entertainment.

As you can see this is a real community event which people have worked hard to put on. All they need now is for you to go along and make it the success it deserves to be.

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