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Hundreds visit Fair Green to celebrate the legend of Madame Abdella



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Almost 1,000 people visited the spot where a Burmese elephant is believed to be buried in Diss earlier this month.

Hundreds descended upon Fair Green to celebrate the culmination of the Historic Elephants of Diss Project.

Organised by the Corn Hall and Fair Green Neighbourhood Association, the project celebrates the legend of Madame Abdella – a 20-year-old Burmese elephant which is believed to have been buried under the green more than 150 years ago.

Keith Rackham with his memorial to Madame Abdella. Picture: Stuart Hobday
Keith Rackham with his memorial to Madame Abdella. Picture: Stuart Hobday

The animal had been brought to the town as part of a travelling circus back in 1867, but unexpectedly died during the stop.

Rumours that Madame Abdella is buried under the green have circulated ever since, cementing her in Diss folklore.

On Sunday afternoon, visitors enjoyed a performance from Hocus Pocus Circus Workshops, along with food, face painting, live music, a Punch and Judy show and a visit from Banham Zoo – all made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

To close the afternoon, a permanent memorial to Madame Abdella – a stone outline of the creature, designed by local artist Keith Rackham – was unveiled by Diss mayor Eric Taylor.

Town Mayor Eric Taylor during the event earlier this month. Picture: Basil Abbott (58226670)
Town Mayor Eric Taylor during the event earlier this month. Picture: Basil Abbott (58226670)

“It was really well attended,” said Stuart Hobday, chief executive at the Corn Hall. “We were really pleased that lots of people came.

“When we were first presented with the idea, we thought it would be a great celebration for the community.

“We’re proud to say that the Corn Hall was involved in helping with something that’s going to be there for future generations, so people can be aware of this unusual piece of local history.”

Last year, the Corn Hall received £46,400 in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop and produce an arts programme focusing on Madame Abdella.

A series of workshops exploring the story will take place over the coming weeks at the Corn Hall, in partnership with Eastern Region Media CIC.



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