Crowds turn out in support of a rural tradition

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Crowds in Bury St Edmunds have braved the cold in support of a rural tradition associated with the first working day in the countryside after the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Traditionally, Plough Sunday - the first Sunday after the Epiphany - was set aside to bless farm machinery before ploughing started in preparation for the sowing of crops, with the promise of a harvest to follow.

Today, to mark the custom, a procession was led from St Edmundsbury Cathedral to the South Green, near the Norman Tower, and a plough and tractor were blessed.

It followed the cathedral’s 3.30pm service of Choral Evensong, which was attended by representatives of the National Farmers’ Union and the local farming community.

Canon Philip Banks, precentor at the cathedral, said: “It seems appropriate to use this Sunday, particularly when it is cold and damp outside, to give thanks for this important part of Suffolk’s economy and the people who work in all weathers to bring food to our tables.”

The plough and tractor used in today’s blessing were provided by Andrew Long, who farms at Fornham.