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Beccles shines light on hidden gems during weekend of charter celebrations

PUBLISHED: 17:44 05 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:51 05 July 2017

A flag is raised at the top of St Michales Tower to signal the start of the Beccles Charter Weekend.
Picture: Nick Butcher

A flag is raised at the top of St Michales Tower to signal the start of the Beccles Charter Weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Bagpipes echoed out around Beccles as the town was gripped by civic pride.

Beccles Charter Weekend.
Waveney MP, Peter Aldous, Artist, David Cross and Town Mayor Richard Stubbings, unviel the new Beccles peace sculpture.
Picture: Nick Butcher Beccles Charter Weekend. Waveney MP, Peter Aldous, Artist, David Cross and Town Mayor Richard Stubbings, unviel the new Beccles peace sculpture. Picture: Nick Butcher

Celebrating the anniversary of the granting of the original charter to the town by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1584, Beccles Charter Weekend, over July 1 and 2, gives local organisations the chance to promote themselves and raise money for the community.

Eight hubs across the town staged events and activities while over 30 gardens and spaces were opened to the public.

Beccles Museum exhibited a piece of appliqué work by a former resident of the presentation of the charter to John Baas, the first Port Reeve of Beccles, in 1584, while Hippersons Boatyard showcased numerous historic boats such as the Wherry Maud from 1899.

Beccles mayor, Richard Stubbings, who began proceedings with the raising of the town flag on top of Beccles Tower, said: “It is a beautiful day that helps remind us how Beccles is special – not just because of its history but because of its people who make it such a lovely place to live.”

A flag is raised at the top of St Michales Tower to signal the start of the Beccles Charter Weekend.
Bagpiper Ian Soulsby.
Picture: Nick Butcher A flag is raised at the top of St Michales Tower to signal the start of the Beccles Charter Weekend. Bagpiper Ian Soulsby. Picture: Nick Butcher

Elsewhere, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he was “privileged and honoured” to unveil the town’s new peace sculpture outside Beccles library.

He added: “It is appropriate to take place on charter weekend as we celebrate the rich and diverse history of Beccles.”

The sculpture was created in recognition of the town’s friendship with the French commune of Petit-Couronne.

Visitors could be found enjoying the secret gardens and spaces which were marked all over the town by balloons.

James Mullan and Lyall Thou opened their garden to the public as part of Beccles Charter Weekend. Photo: James Carr James Mullan and Lyall Thou opened their garden to the public as part of Beccles Charter Weekend. Photo: James Carr

Sandra Marsh, of the Beccles Open Gardens and Spaces committee, said: “Charter weekend is one of the biggest fundraising events in the calendar - it really does make a real difference.

“These are places people walk past every day and don’t look at but when they are pointed out you realise how wonderful they are.”

James Mullen and Lyall Thou were taking part in the open gardens for the first time having moved to the town in January. They welcomed visitors to their grade one listed home in Old Market Square.

Mr Thou said: “It’s been a really nice way to meet people, everyone has been jolly and shown interest in the house and gardens.

“My only regret is we can’t go see other people’s gardens.”

Event Organiser

The Beccles Open Gardens and Spaces element of Charter Weekend raised over £3,000 for three local charities – Inside Out Beccles, the Beccles NSPCC Group and a yet to be decided ‘gardener’s choice’.

Hugh Taylor, chairman of the organising committee, said: “Members of the organising group consider Beccles Charter Weekend 2017 to have proved a resounding success which was enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

“The Open Gardens element drew visitors into the town from across East Anglia, and further afield, over a sunny weekend during which the town flag flew proudly on the top of Beccles Tower - the last tune the guest piper from the City of Norwich Pipe and Drums played on top of the tower was ‘Amazing Grace’ and, all in all, it was a lovely, delightfully amazing, weekend.”

“I can also confirm that next year will see the return of the popular water cycle race between the mayor and local MP on the River Waveney.”

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