By Harry Mottram: To celebrate the awarding of the town’s 13th century charter, the next Axbridge Pageant slated for 2030 has been brought forward by 12 months by the Axbridge Pageant Trust to 2029. The new date will see the huge community play held in the town square staged over the August bank holiday weekend of Saturday-Monday, August 25-27, 2029, daily at 3pm.
In 1229 a charter granted by King Henry III (800 years before 2029) freed Axbridge traders from tolls and recognised the town as an important market centre in the county. Wool had become one of the town’s wealth generating industries as sheep on the Mendips became big business. Guilds were established to protect the commerce in Axbridge making it a centre for the lucrative trade and for the Crown a vital source of taxation and revenue. It is also the 750th anniversary of the charter granted by Edward I in 1279 allowing Axbridge to hold a fair.
The Axbridge Pageant Trust and the town crier Nigel Scott said it was important to mark the year as the charters gave the town an independence and a prosperity which began the process of leaving behind the constraints of medieval England.
Nigel Scott said: “The pageant has come to define the town since its inception in 1967 when the history play was created in the town square to celebrate the opening of the bypass which freed the narrow streets from through traffic. From that humble beginning the pageant has become globally famous with live streaming on social media, plus television and radio coverage, the subject of a social research project by universities and its cast of hundreds of local people. It was repeated in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and again in 2022 – having been put back two years by the Covid crisis. People travel from around the world to see the three-day event complete with associated live music concerts – and so it seems appropriate to mark the 800th anniversary of the Plantagenet charter.”
The pageant trustees said more details will be announced in the coming months but asked residents and fans of the pageant to mark their diaries for August Saturday-Monday, 25-27, 2029.
Photo: Nigel Carson
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