TORRENTIAL rain and a smattering of sleet could not dampen the spirits of the crowds who turned out to support the launch of the celebrations of Richmond's 950th anniversary.

Marking the building of Richmond Castle in 1071, as well as the birth and growth of the market town, the organisers of Richmond 950 have put on an array of events spanning the whole year.

Not even a pandemic could put off plans completely, although the launch was originally planned to be earlier in the year before the winter lockdown was announced.

On Saturday, despite the inclement weather, scores of residents and visitors to the town enjoyed a historic market, including traditional pottery, medieval ales, and Tom Fool and Lord Flame providing entertainment with stilt walking, jestering and and jokes.

There was also music from bellringers and medieval minstrels Trouvere.

Organisers Marcia McLuckie, Carol Watson and Phil Upton said they were delighted to see so many people had come to support the event – and that it summed up the local community to not be put off by a bit of rain.

At noon, there were speeches from Richmond Mayor Lorraine Hodgson, Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond, and a performance from Town Crier Barry Heap.

Mrs Hodgson said: "I'm very lucky to be mayor in this lovely town, and I'm very excited to invite you all to join us for the celebrations of the start of the castle and town.

"I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard in organising the celebrations – the 950 committee have put so much time and effort into the programme.

"I hope lots of people come and enjoy what there is on offer throughout the year."

Baroness Harris added: "As well as the committee who have organised the events, I want to thank the business association, shops, and the community for getting behind Richmond 950.

"Richmond is a wonderful town and surrounding area – there is so much to do and we hope to welcome lots of visitors this coming year."

Throughout 2021, other events include a 950-themed treasure hunt, community archaeology project, and an exhibition on communication in Richmond through the ages.

There has also been a new woodland created – Rufus Wood – using native trees.