The charter document, held at the National Archives in London, is dated 29th February 1244, and every year from now on the last Saturday in February will be celebrated as Charter Day in Wellington. To mark the occasion, there will be a short ceremony in Market Square, followed by music, whilst inside the market hall itself traders will be wearing fancy dress on the theme of ‘Wellington Market through the Ages’. To end the day the town's new ale taster, to be announced next week, will host an informal evening gathering at the Cock Hotel where the focus will be on artisan food and drink made around The Wrekin.
Local heritage group Wellington H2A had the idea to turn the anniversary into something special. ‘Shropshire can boast several historic market towns,’ says Rob Francis of Wellington H2A, ‘but Wellington’s charter is amongst the county’s earliest, and that’s something we should celebrate. The February weather isn’t conducive to a big open air event, so we'll be keeping it short and sweet, but Charter Day is an opportunity we shouldn't miss.’
At 11.30am on Saturday 25th February, the king’s herald will ride into Market Square and read out the 1244 charter before presenting it to the people of the town. Following music from Wellington Brass Band, at midday the mayor and other representatives, acting in the role of Wellington’s ancient manor court, will ceremonially appoint three officials for the year ahead – the clerk of the market, the town crier and the new ale taster.
'This is a fun way to bring a slice of the town's history to life,' Rob suggests, 'and at a time when new developments and new businesses are bringing a bit of a buzz back to Wellington, its also a chance for us to get together and look forward to what's starting to look like an increasingly bright future as well.'
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