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No standing army but plenty of fun at latest traditional Lichfield Bower festival

The sun shone and the crowds gathered in their thousands to enjoy a Staffordshire city's spring bank holiday tradition.

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Former Bower Queens pose with the deputy mayor Samuel Schafer

The streets of Lichfield were lined with people on Monday as it celebrated the Lichfield Bower, a festival held each year honouring a statute of Henry II of England from the 12th century which ordered that all men capable of bearing arms should be inspected by the magistrates.

Richard Hunt and Dave Bourne wear ceremonial outfits and carry sceptres for the procession

Since there was no standing army, this was a way to find out how many men could fight in a war, with the men then marching through the streets and retiring at a 'Bower House' for roast beef and spirits.

The modern-day equivalent on May 29 saw the day start at Lichfield Guildhall with the Court of Arraye, an assembly of men in medieval amour who were inspected by the mayor, sheriff and city officials.

Crier and sword bearer Adrian Holmes was at the front of proceedings

Then there was a procession which started at Green Hill, with a route through city streets and residential areas around Lichfield, before finishing at the Guildhall where the deputy mayor of Lichfield Councillor Samuel Schafer took the salute.

Lichfield Deputy Samuel Schafer, Jane Dayus-Hinch and Michael Mullarkey take in the procession

The procession was one of colour and a mixture of modern and traditional costumes, from the traditional Beefeater costumes to the army band and the band of the West Midlands Fire Service playing, while there were a mixture of floats and charity collections.

This included a float with past and present Lichfield Bower Queens, with one participant having been named as Queen of the Bower back in 1990.

As the parade drew to a close following the salute by the deputy mayor, the festivities moved on from the city centre to Beacon Park as the Bower fun fair began for the afternoon.

The Band of the West Midlands Fire Service played throughout the procession

There were a range of stalls and entertainment all throughout the afternoon, from the Pat Collins Fun Fair, which also ran in the city centre, to the Lichfield Bower Dog Show.

The stage area also provided entertainment with Only Robots from Liberty Jamboree and the Shine and Sign Choir and the Bo Brothers both a hit to those watching the show.

Lichfield Bower organising committee chairman Michael Mullarkey said he was proud of everyone who had given up their time to help run the event and delighted to have seen so many people come out to the event.

The procession saw a wide range of colours and costumes

He said: "It's been a fabulous afternoon and the people of Lichfield have really supported it as it has been one of the biggest events we have ever put on.

"The park has been packed and there were so many people out supporting the procession, which is the biggest one I can remember doing, particularly after coming back from Covid three years ago.

The procession brought thousands of people out to the streets of Lichfield

"This is Lichfield's oldest event and the oldest event in the country, which is put on by 25 working volunteers who give their time freely so that people can enjoy themselves.

"We are already looking ahead to next year and building bigger and better and thank goodness the weather was so good today as it really added to the experience for everyone."