A THRONG lined the streets of Salisbury yesterday evening to welcome a pageant celebrating 800 years since the Magna Carta agreement.

The procession was organised by Wiltshire Council and was made up of representatives from all over Wiltshire, parading 18 larger-than-life puppet barons from the Market Square to the cathedral.

The puppets, about nine feet tall, represented the group of rebel barons who met King John at Runnymede eight centuries ago to the day, when he agreed to a series of promises to uphold the rights of individuals.

Chippenham's red cloaked baron, which includes a three foot high head, was carried by the Street Pastors who look out for people in the town centre on Saturday nights.

It was put together and decorated by 29 eight to 10-year-olds at Frogwell Primary School, many of whom were also part of the procession, along with the 1st Chippenham Guides who carried Chippenham's banner.

Andrew Skelton, learning and outreach officer at Chippenham Museum, said: "The whole of Salisbury was buzzing, it was fantastic. There were hundreds out watching it, the streets were lined all the way along the 1.5 mile route and it was at points five deep with people. The Frogwell children kept the party going, making lots of noise."

Wiltshire Councillor Peter Hutton, who is chairman of Chippenham's Local Youth Network, said: "The pageant highlighted the diverse range of communities that we have in Wiltshire. This was a wonderful event."

In Calne, young people from its Local Youth Network and John Bentley School worked on their puppet, which was a reimagining of William de Cantilupe.

Jane Vaughan, Wiltshire Council's community area manager for Calne, said: "He was one of King John's enforcers, a bit of a baddie, so to try to make him less evil the young people affectionately dubbed him Billy the Melon."

Each town had a phrase summing up their area, displayed on their banners and put together at the end of the procession in a new Magna Carta statement for Wiltshire.

Chippenham's was 'Safe and protected from harm' and Calne's was 'Respect for ourselves, our environment and our differences', decided on by the young people themselves at June's area board meeting.

The barons and banners are currently being exhibited in Salisbury Cathedral but Calne's is hoped to be part of the town carnival on Saturday June 27 and Chippenham's is to be displayed in the Yelde Hall in the summer.