Market Drayton, Shropshire, Traditions,

A Tale of Two Market Towns

Market Drayton Twinning

Anyone who knows Market Drayton will be familiar with its Wednesday street market and its reputation as the home of gingerbread.  Market Drayton’s involvement in food production is also reflected in the local factories, the community-owned farm, the many privately owned cafes, and the presence of shops selling locally produced meats, cheeses, bakery products, and delicatessen.

Market Drayton also boasts local hero, Clive of India.  Whether Clive really deserves his civic acclaim is open to question since as a young man, he reputedly ran a protection racket in the town and was a thorn in the side of local shopkeepers.  His role in establishing British rule in India also attracted mixed views even at the time, but whatever else one may think of him, he clearly liked his food.  On his journey home in 1767, returning via the French town of Pezenas, he stopped and requested a local bakery to make him up some pies to his own recipe.  Whilst not surprising to a British palate and a regular dish in our Drayton pubs, meat pies are virtually unknown as a food in much of Europe. So taken were the people of Pezenas with this new food, that they made the pie the emblem of their town council and the local bakers continue to make Clive’s pies which are a mix of mutton and sweetened lemon peel.

Market Products

Twinned with Pezenas in South France

Pezenas is located between Montpelier and Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast in the Languedoc region of France. Whilst famous for its vineyards and local cuisine, Pezenas also boasts the Chateau of Martin de Graves, the roman bridge at Saint-Thibéry, the windmill at Concasseur, and numerous historic churches, buildings and museums.  Its history is kept alive by its bustling and beautiful mediaeval streets lined with shops specializing in local crafts, particularly mosaic art and woodworking but also handmade hats, toys, ice-cream, sweets and many more.  Although it feels similar to Market Drayton in its thriving and friendly local community and its distance from city life, the Mediterranean weather and plentiful street cafés and restaurants make it clear you are in Southern France.

Pezenas has also maintained its historic link with Market Drayton over the years.  A number of local people have made permanent homes there, and the twinning group also makes regular biennial trips there to enjoy the local cuisine, sight-seeing and hospitality.  While there, we stay in the homes of local French families who have volunteered to host us.  Every other year, we welcome a local group from Pezenas here into our homes and show them the sights and traditions of our locality.  I personally have really enjoyed the opportunity to stay in the heart of a French family and experience ordinary French life away from the tourist glamour. We all get on in a mix of French, English and Franglais according to our personal language skills and my children’s language learning has been enormously helped by spending time with French children their own age. Efforts are made to pair people up according to their age and interests and need to stay with someone they can communicate with.

Our next trip to France will be in May 2022, Covid permitting.  Naturally, the visits have been on hold during the Covid lockdown so we are all excited to get back there.  The visit will be particularly special because Alison Bates, secretary of the local twinning committee, is being admitted to the Pezenas Confrérie du petit pâté de Pézenas, an organisation created in Pezenas in 1991 to preserve and promote the tradition of Clive’s pies.  It is the equivalent of being given honorary membership of the town and the French make the most of it with a ceremony and the award of a symbolic pie!  If you are interested in joining us on our trip, would like to host a French family when they come here in 2023, or would simply like to know a bit more about it, please contact via email: alison@bates-family.net or our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EnthusiasticTwinners

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