Gold Hill Museum volunteers and supporters were prominent among the re-enactors of the Byzant Ceremony during the 2019 Shaftesbury Food Fair. The procession formed up at the Gold Hill Museum stall near The Commons and made its way down Tout Hill to Enmore Green, the location of the springs which once supplied most of the town’s water.
After one of many blessings en route the procession was greeted by the Lord of the Manor of Gillingham and his Lady, who offered refreshments. The symbolic rent for access to the springs was handed over, and in the case of the mace-like Byzant, returned to the representatives of the town. Other elements of the payment in kind included a calf’s head, a pair of gloves, a cask of ale, and bread.
Music and dancing followed, after which the procession somewhat wearily ascended the steps to Castle Hill and made its way along Magdalene Lane to the Westminster Memorial Hospital, and the War Memorial on Park Walk – the limit of the numerous stalls of the thriving Food Fair – before terminating in Holy Trinity Churchyard.
The original Byzant can be viewed in Gold Hill Museum. The story of Shaftesbury’s water supply is traced in one of this year’s intriguing temporary exhibitions. Gold Hill Museum is open every day 10.30a.m. – 4.30p.m. until 31 October, and admission is free. Thanks to ThisisAlfred for the photograph of the head of the Procession.