Record amount paid at annual Whitebread Meadow auction

No Caption ABCDE EMN-140429-174602001
No Caption ABCDE EMN-140429-174602001
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An age old custom was observed in Bourne on Monday night during the annual Whitebread Meadow auction.

The 272nd annual letting of the meadow took place in Eastgate and was led by auctioneer Stephen Knipe.

For the eighth consecutive year the auction was won by David Austin, who paid a record amount of £340 in rent for the land in Meadow Drove.

The custom dates back to 1742 when two pieces of land were given to be auctioned.

When the auctioneer thinks the last bid has been placed for the meadow, he sends two children on a race along Eastgate.

Once they reach the finish line, the hammer falls. If another bid is received in the meantime, the children must start again.

This year’s young runners were Henry Brown and Samuel Petz.

The rent used to be distributed in the form of white bread but now goes to a good cause in the town.

Before the auction, the Bourne Borderers performed a morris dance and ended with a performance of St George and his dragon, much to the delight of onlookers.

Mr Knipe: “The auction went very well.

“It wasn’t as busy as in past years but it was quite a cool night so perhaps that accounted for some people.

“There were four bidders this year, which we haven’t had in quite some time, but Mr Austin paid a record amount.

“He is retired and I think he likes to use the meadow to potter around and he mows it for hay.

“The Bourne Borderers were once again very entertaining and the St George and the Dragon story always goes down well.”

Afterwards the organisers retired to the Anchor pub in Eastgate for their annual meeting.

The charity to benefit from this year’s rent money has yet to be decided but Mr Knipe said more than one could be chosen. Last year’s beneficiary was Bourne Foodbank.