Well my Civic Day was quite early in my Mayoral year, only having done one myself in another town so far – lots in the diary for later in the year though. So really I had to just do what I felt was going to be interesting for my guests and would show off the town adequately!
Many of the dignitaries had been to town last month for the Folk Festival so I wanted to avoid too much repetition for them. Generally Mayors/Chairman and their Escorts, along with other dignitaries will be invited to the various towns and districts in Dorset (and sometimes further afield), throughout the year. The Civic day usually lasts the whole day and is an opportunity to simply show off the town and give visitors information and perhaps a bit of history or show them interesting places, companies or buildings.
In Wimborne Minster, we’re spoiled for choice with so many places to choose from but since some of my guests would have visited those places in June, I thought I’d aim high and try to get them into Deans Court which is a private residence in the centre of town – but is so hidden, most people don’t even know it’s there!
I met the visitors at Allendale House for tea, coffee and refreshments from 9:30 Saturday morning. Our Town Crier Chris Brown ‘announced’ them as they entered the building (in a way only he can), and the Militia guarded the doors and sign posted them to the right place! After everyone arrived, we were led by the Flag Bearer of the Militia, through town and into the back entrance to Deans Court. It was a short walk but it was lovely to see so many people in town as we walked through the Square – which just happened to have a WWl Bi Plane in situ’!
Of course the Wimborne History Festival was in full flow – which is why I chose this weekend to do the Civic day, since ‘history’ is the topic for my year. There were stalls and exhibitors – and Radio Wimborne, displaying on the Minster Green as we passed.
Once in Deans Court and after a photo opportunity at the front steps, Malcolm Angel led the group to the Saxon pond and gave a talk on the history of the trees and house. We walked through the vegetable garden where they could admire the ‘Crinkle Crankle’ or ‘Serpentine’ wall. That was the part where I knew the robes were going to have to come off!
We went inside the house where Sir William very generously gave a talk on the house and the history of his family there. The guests got to have a sneaky peak around the ground floor rooms.
We then went over to the Minster where Christine Oliver gave guided talks about the Minster and some (including me), went up to the Chained Library for a talk on the history of that and see some very special books!
At this point, we were all flagging a bit in the heat, so headed back to Allendale House for lunch. But not before stopping off at the Square to get a closer look at the Bi Plane – and very special it was too! I was offered the opportunity to have a sit in it but one look at the seat and surrounding area was enough to confirm that my dignity could not be assured if I attempted to get in! So I settled with a shot next to it!
On the Square I bumped into Tracey Cooper who has driven this fantastic festival, along with Andy and Rachel Limb who have also done so much to make it all happen.
There’s been so much positive feedback for what was a ‘free’ day for so many with replicas, re enactments, Silent Soldiers, talks, and so much more. And all to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of WWl. The Silent Soldiers in particular were very moving,
We needed lunch by now and I was so pleased with our buffet lunch. There’s so much I can’t eat normally due to my dietary requirements, so I was excited to see what my Vegan and Vegetarian food would be like. Everyone seemed to like it (although I know at least one was looking for the ham slices)! But there was loads of it and the chocolate brownie was to die for. All gluten and refined sugar free too – how exciting for me!
I think most people were ready for a glass of wine and a sit down, so whilst people were eating, Malcolm talked for about 10 mins about some other interesting historic facts about the town (can never have too much history)!
After lunch we headed off to the playing fields of Allenbourn School where the History Festival had a loads more going on. The visitors had a walk around and treated themselves to an ice cream. I caught up with Radio Wimborne who were the PA masters of this site as well as the Minster Green one this year – a huge task for our small team but they pulled it off. It was the first time our mobile studio was on display too – Chris Rigler has been working hard on it for months and there it was in all its glory on the field (a proud tear came to my eye)! The outside is complete but I have the pleasure of doing a bit of bling on the interior design – chandelier – too much?
After the field, we headed to the Allendale Centre where we had tea and coffee (plus a slice of cake) and a look at the mobile trench inside – where the guardian of that gave a great talk on how trench life worked. The Silent Soldiers came in and sang a song before returning to their sombre stance.
So many nice comments from my guests before they headed off to their respective towns across the County. I want to thank the History Festival for looking after us, Allendale House and Allendale Centre staff for making sure we were watered and fed. Then there’s Malcolm Angel for being our local historian, Sir William for opening up his home, the Militia and Town Crier for guiding us (and reigning us in as required) and to Christine Oliver for her wonderful tour guide role.
I’m not sure I’ve been that tired since I had newborns – but what fantastic memories.