Quinquennial Turning Out and Walk Festival

Quinquennial Turning Out and Walk Festival
March 25, 2015 Adrian Walters

With spring well on the way now is the time to think about getting out and enjoying the riverside. There is so much to see in terms of wildlife and scenery from the regal swans on the river to the sweeping landscape of the pastures.

Long ago, before the Sudbury Common Lands Charity was set up in 1897, the mayor of Sudbury was responsible for checking the pastures at the beginning of the new grazing season. It was his job to decide whether the grass was fit and ready for the Freemen to turn out their cows and horses. In some years the return of the livestock had to be delayed because the pastures were either too wet or grass growth was not forward enough to sustain the animals.

As part of the extensive 1997 centenary celebrations the charity Trustees invited the Mayor to re-enact his ancient role. The robed Mayor, accompanied by the Freemen Macebearers and Trustees, made a short excursion out on to the pastures. The Mayor then declared the grass fit for the new grazing season. From the year 2000 the Trustees have re-enacted this ceremony every five years.

At 10.00 a.m. on Friday 1st May the Chairman of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity will escort the Mayoral party and Volunteer Rangers from outside the Mill Hotel on to the riverside pastures. In due course the Mayor will declare the grass fit for grazing and the first cattle will be offloaded from the lorry.

This is a colourful and, no doubt, unique ceremony and all the more important as it takes place just once every five years.

The charity is also taking part in the Suffolk Walking Festival during May by providing two guided walks along the route of the ‘Meadows Walk’ which forms the first of the Gainsborough Trail walks. This is an opportunity for those who do not come along with a club or organisation to join a circular walk around the beautiful Sudbury riverside. During late May the pastures will be looking their very best; the grasslands spangled with thousands of flowering buttercups and the countryside fresh and vibrant in new green growth.

The walks will take place on Saturday 23rd May and Wednesday 27th May. For more information or to book a place take a look at Suffolk Walking Festival 2015 or contact Sudbury TIC at the library.

During May a large group of French visitors will be joining a guided walk with the charity and, providing the weather is kind, they will leave with memorable impressions of Sudbury’s riverside landscape.