Beccles prepares to celebrate historical charter

River Waveney, Beccles.

River Waveney, Beccles. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Final preparations are taking place in Beccles for two days of celebrations to recognise the town’s historic charter.

The event on Saturday and Sunday will showcase some of the best sites and attractions the town has to offer.

The weekend aims to mark the granting of the charter by Queen Elizabeth I on July 2, 1584.

The charter is a legal document establishing a municipality such as a city or town,

Traditionally the granting of a charter gave a settlement and its inhabitants the right to town privileges under the feudal system.

In the case of Beccles, the lands around the town were formally granted for the benefit of the townspeople and in 1605 it was confirmed again by James I.

The mayor of Beccles, Hugh Taylor, said: “The town will celebrate the granting of its charter over the weekend while the descendent body of the corporation set up under the terms of the charter,

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“Beccles Town Council, will be holding a ceremony to mark the current Queen Elizabeth becoming our longest-reigning monarch on September 9, 2015.”

Activities start on Saturday with Beccles Open Gardens and Spaces, which offers visitors the chance to enjoy more than 25 of the town’s most beautiful and original gardens.

Last year more than 400 people in one day came to explore the gardens and organisers hope this year’s event will attract even more visitors,

Programmes, which contain a map of the gardens, are available from Beccles Museum in Ballygate from 10am on both days, with the gardens open from 11am until 5pm.

The programmes cost £5, children are free, and include a river trip on the 1930s motor yacht, the Betsie Jane, on Saturday.

Mr Taylor said: “This was hugely successful last year.

“The Betsie Jane comes to the Waveney House Hotel, she can take 12 passengers at a time and members of the River Waveney Trust act as a shore party.

“We’ve done this as part of Open Gardens again so that people can see all the gardens coming down to the river and very few of those get opened up, largely because of access issues, and that was hugely successful last year.”

Beccles and Bungay Area Community Transport will be available across both days to take people to the events, allowing them to hop on and off to visit all the attractions, and for those looking for a slightly different form of transport, heavy horses and carriages will available to visitors on Sunday.

On Sunday, the River Waveney takes centre stage, with a nautical fayre starting at 9am at Beccles Quay.

The afternoon will see the Beccles and Area River Cavalcade featuring a water bike race, while boats of historical and general interest will be sailing up and down the river before forming a flotilla and mooring up to permit visitors to view them and, if large enough, to go on board.

Proceeds from the day will go to local organisations which will be decided after the event.

For information on all the events taking place over the weekend go to or 07773 493160.

Are you marking an historical event? Email or call 01502 712060 to speak to a reporter.