Market Drayton twinning group visits French counterpart for first time since pandemic

Members of Market Drayton 's twinning association are 'thrilled' to have visited their friends in France after a three-year delay due to Covid.

Ann Parkinson and Alison Bates
Ann Parkinson and Alison Bates

Market Drayton Twinning Association jetted off to the twin town of Pezenas in the South of France this week, for their first trip since before the pandemic.

The special visit involved a trip to Valmagne Abbey in Villeveyrac, wine tasting, a visit to an oyster farm and a guided tour of the Palace of the Archbishops in Narbonne.

Association secretary Alison Bates commented on the trip and said: "We’re thrilled to be going to Pezenas again after not seeing our friends there for the whole years.

Carol Hitchen, left, Tim Bosley, Harry Hitchen, Colin Bates, Ann Parkinson and Alison Bates

"And Pezenas is such a beautiful mediaeval town – a bit like Shrewsbury, but with the beautiful warm weather of the Mediterranean.

As part of the trip, Alison, became a part of the Confrérie du petit pâté de Pézenas – said to be the equivalent of being given honorary membership of the town.

The organisation was formed in 1991 to preserve and promote the tradition of Clive of India's pies, and the ceremony involved the award of a medieval mince pie made of lamb.

Clive of India linked the two towns together after his return home from India to Market Drayton in 1767 in which he returned via Pezenas.

While stopping off in the French town, he requested a local bakery to make him up some pies to his own recipe – a meat pie – which were not as common in much of Europe.

Commenting on the honour, Alison said: "Officially the civic honour is that I will be admitted into the Brotherhood of the Little Pie of Pezenas or La Confrerie du Petit Pate de Pezenas.

"The ceremony takes place in their beautiful 17th century theatre with great pomp and formality. I’m given robes and a hat and a replica “petit pate” on a ribbon.

"I have to solemnly swear always to uphold the tradition of the pie. Then there is a procession through the town with fifes and drums behind the famous 'Poulain' – a very ancient type of pantomime horse, supported by members of the rugby club underneath, which is also a symbol of Pezenas.

"A model of it flies above Market Drayton Town Hall as a weather vane, given to the town by the town of Pezenas.

"And finally there is a formal meal and speeches."

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