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Arts, crafts artisan food and top tennis

Annette Ashton and her art work at last year's Clare Priory Craft Fair' ANL-151207-201408009
Annette Ashton and her art work at last year's Clare Priory Craft Fair' ANL-151207-201408009

Tennis fans will not have to miss Wimbledon if they go to the 24th Clare Priory Craft Fair next month because they will be showing matches on a large screen television.

And to create the right atmosphere, they will also be selling ‘Wimbledon-style strawberries and cream’ and Pimms.

But if you can tear yourself away from the screen, the fair, on July 9 and 10, will have more than 130 exhibitors on 150 pitches demonstrating and displaying a wide range of traditional and modern arts and crafts, plus plant sales and artisan food and drink.

The crafts on display will include blacksmithing, textiles and clothing, stick and flute-making, ceramics, high-quality wooden furniture, jewellery, lace-making, art, wood craft, leatherwork, wool-spinning, photography, glassware, pyrography and decoupage.

Bernard Rushton, one of Clare Priory’s team of volunteers organising the craft fair, said: “There will be all-day breakfasts and hot food, plus a licensed bar, refreshment tent and live music as usual, as well as barbershop singers and Morris Dancers on both days.

“For the children there will be Punch and Judy, a magician, face-painting and a daily children’s raffle. Over the past ten years we have probably donated around £100,000 to a range of charities.”

One of the main reasons for starting the fair in 1993 was to raise money to create a new church at the priory and visitors will be able to take a guided tour of that building which in 2015 won the Building Conservation Award and was named as the East of England Project of the Year by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The tours will be led by Father David Middleton, Clare’s parish priest, and two members of the Clare Priory Church Extension Committee, Steven Cubitt and Adrian Whitehouse.

Father David said: “The extended church is a striking combination of the historic and the modern. I think that the new 21st century building actually increases our appreciation of the 14th century structure.”

The addition was designed so that it would not interfere with the historic structure or the site’s archaeology.

This year’s fair is open from 10am to 5pm on both days, with admission £5, or £4 for senior citizens, and is free for accompanied under-16s.

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