Charter celebrations crowned by Royal

Miles Jermy THE red carpet was rolled out to greet the Princess Royal this week on a visit crowning Great Yarmouth's charter celebrations.Crowds crammed into the Market Place to catch a glimpse of Princess Anne during a royal walkabout on Monday.

Miles Jermy

THE red carpet was rolled out to greet the Princess Royal this week on a visit crowning Great Yarmouth's charter celebrations.

Crowds crammed into the Market Place to catch a glimpse of Princess Anne during a royal walkabout on Monday.

The Princess stopped to chat to bystanders as she made her way from St Nicholas' Church to the town hall.

Thousands of people gathered in glorious sunshine as the Princess strolled past with a group of civic dignitaries, including Mayor and Mayoress Terry and Jenny Easter.

Among those lining the streets were more than 300 flag waving pupils from nearby St Nicholas Middle School.

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The Princess unveiled a plaque outside St Nicholas Church created by Colin Smith, commemorating the 800th anniversary of the granting of the King John Charter, which gave Yarmouth the status of a free borough.

Mr Smith described the occasion as one of his proudest moments in more than 45 years as a stonemason.

He said: “It is an immense privilege and honour to have been asked to make this plaque for Yarmouth.

“The Princess jokingly asked if the material for the plaque was from China and then said it was very nice.”

In the church the Princess met members of the community involved with charter events throughout the year.

Among those to be introduced to the royal visitor was Gorleston Flower Club president Brenda Fuller.

“The princess was lovely to speak to she made everyone feel at ease and was genuinely interested in us,” said Mrs Fuller

“She talked about what flowers would have been used in King John's day and I said our arrangements are a bit more eye catching these days.”

Charles Hunt was one of a group of catering students from Great Yarmouth College who had cooked and served dishes at last month's medieval charter feast.

He said: “It was really great meeting the princess, the feast was a great success and I feel honoured to have been invited here today.”

Canon Michael Woods accompanied the princess on her tour of the church, to the musical accompaniment of Ormesby Village Junior School orchestra.

The charter, signed by King John on March 18 1208, had been placed on display in the church for the royal visit. The priceless medieval parchment is normally stored in special conditions at the county archive in Norwich.

Great Yarmouth borough archivist Lucy Purvis, said: “This is the first time the charter has been bought to Yarmouth for some time. It is in quite good condition, but there would have been a seal on it originally.

“The charter is very fragile and needs to have stable atmospheric conditions to preserve it and sadly there is nowhere suitable in Yarmouth to store it.”

Before arriving at the town hall the princess stopped briefly outside Palmers department store, where she met company chairman Bruce Sturrock and town centre manager Jonathan Newman.

Mr Sturrock said: “I told the Princess the store had been here for over 170 years and I was the fifth generation of the family to run it.

“I said that Princess Alexandra was here for our 150th anniversary and I invited her to our 175th anniversary.”

Chip stall owner Julie Meldicott told the princess that Yarmouth had the best chips in the world and she replied that apparently Peruvian potatoes were the tastiest.

Australian student Laura Gregg, from Sydney, was not expecting to encounter a member of the Royal Family during a day out with friends.

Laura, who is currently studying at the UEA in Norwich, said: “The princess was very friendly and I really enjoyed meeting her, she asked where I was from and what I was doing here. I just happened to be visiting Yarmouth today and had no idea she was coming.”

During the walkabout bashful six year old Sydney Allard Watkinson presented a posy of colourful flowers to the princess

At the town hall she was greeted by members of 901 troop marine cadets from Winterton, and Flegg High School in Martham.

She was shown the restoration work at the town hall by borough council leader Barry Coleman before meeting representatives from local voluntary organisations and the chamber of commerce.

Mr Coleman said: “The Princess Royal's visit has been the highlight of the 800-year celebrations.

“On her visit she has talked with many of the thousands of visitors and residents who lined the streets to cheer her.

“Her Royal Highness has shown great interest in the heritage of the town and had good knowledge of the history of the town hall.”