The cattle return - Turning On 2024

Ross Bentley
Est. Reading: 1 minute

The Sudbury Commons Land Charity hosted a traditional Turning On ceremony on May 1st - a ritual held every three years to celebrate the arrival of the cattle on the meadows.

In a revival of an ancient ceremony, the Mayor of Sudbury Jan Osborne was invited to inspect the grass before the first cattle were turned onto Freemen’s Great Common. The colourful event included mace bearers, freemen, charity trustees and volunteer rangers who formed a procession on the meadows.

Chairman of the trustees of SCLC, Nigel Eley, said: “This is a wonderful ceremony that shows Sudbury’s close connection with these ancient grazing meadows and the importance of the cattle in maintaining this magnificent place.

“The turning on of the cattle signifies the start of the grazing season and of the better weather. Over the weeks that follow more cattle will be turned onto the pastures to provide an iconic scene that has carried on for more than 800 years.”

Records show that livestock have been grazed on pasture lands either side of the River Stour as it flows through Sudbury since the 13th Century. These lands have never been sprayed or fertilised with artificial products and the grazing of cattle is the prime means of management. This in turn has created a special and increasingly rare ecosystem for native plants and wildlife.

It is therefore fundamental to the wellbeing of these lands that grazing continues and, with the meadows having received designation as a Local Nature Reserve and a County Wildlife Site, a key part of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity’s work is to ensure the natural richness of the area is maintained.

The Christopher Centre
10 Gainsborough Street
CO10 2EU
Charity Registration Number: 212222
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