IT was a wet affair as an ancient tradition had its first in person ceremony in two years.

The blessing of the waters in Brightlingsea took place on Sunday, May 29 and the custom dating back hundreds of years saw notable figures in attendance.

As Brightlingsea is the only Cinque Port north of the Thames, the event drew mayors from the Cinque Ports of Kent as well the coastal Essex Mayors including Maldon, Harwich and West Mersea.

The Rev Caroline Beckett said: “We were well blessed by waters from above. It rained, then hailed, but amazingly everyone enjoyed the event.”

The Town Crier’s proclamation on the steps of St James started the event, then the colourful procession of mayors and other dignitaries, led by the band of Colchester Waits Clacton, walked down to the Hard for the service of blessing.

Cinque Port Deputy Mark Wilby welcomed hundreds who turned out to take part despite the conditions.

Roger Tabor, The Lord Warden’s Droitgatherer, said: “Sunday was the beginning of Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Week, and long ago Elizabeth I stationed warships at Brightlingsea, and used the hard.”

 The blessing was made by Canon Laurie Bond, the area dean of St Osyth.

The procession then went aboard historic oyster boats Smacks, Pioneer, My Alice, Priscilla, Maria, barge boats Sietske, Trinity launch, and working boats Maverick and Lulubell.

As the boats set off in driving rain the traditional beating of the bounds ‘Din’ erupted from horns, bells and cheers. The flotilla was joined by gigs, yachts and cruisers with families and friends taking part.

The Motley Crew sang from one of the boats and on reaching the mouth of Brightlingsea Creek, the Rev Bond blessed and laid a wooden cross on the water. Then the traditional toast in beer was made of gang ho.

Brightlingsea’s Blessing of the Waters are normally sunny, but not this year so pennants and bunting did not fly but drooped down but spirits were not dampened.