Our Mayor of Shaftesbury, John Lewer, lover of history and all things Shaftesbury, is inspired to recreate the Byzant Ceremony, and it is happening next month!
This is a ceremony that dates back to 1364, and came about because Shaftesbury had no water source so it was supplied by The Enmore Green wells at nearby Motcombe. Various gifts were given to the owner of Enmore Green in exchange for the water. A procession took place every May from Shaftesbury down to Enmore and then back again, the Mayor would carry a Byzant (thought to be a decorated ornate mace) and towns people would gather along with music, carrying the various gifts including a Calf’s head, seven silver pennies, penny loaves, a gallon of beer, a pair of gloves.
This year on Sunday May 13th there is a guided walk of the Byzant route. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history of Shaftesbury and dress up in medieval costume to take part, have some fun and enjoy some traditional penny loaves and ‘Byzant’ beer!
The route is as follows- Stating off at The Commons at 11.30 – Tout Hill – Byzant Court – Enmore Green – Castle Hill – Westminster Hospital – Trinity Churchyard – The Commons.
There will be a stand at The Commons, (outside Natwest) displaying the history of the Byzant and how we are bringing it up to modern day. You will be able to speak to our local historians regarding the ceremony and pick up some great fact sheets and a map of the route for the procession. There will be seven ‘silver pennies’ to find around the town with a little history about Shaftesbury on, it will be a great way to teach little ones and adults alike about our great town!
We would love to have as many residents of Shaftesbury involved so please save the date and spread the word!