THE fruits of the Hampshire countryside were brought into the heart of the city over the weekend in Winchester.

The cathedral hosted a three-day festival that celebrated the annual harvest and attracted large crowds over the weekend.

A tractor took surreal centre stage by the West Door, there was Morris dancing, rides around the Close in Suffolk Punch horse-drawn wagon rides, numerous country-themed displays, farm animals including birds of prey from Lainston House and music from the Southampton Concert Wind Band.

The Dean, the Very Rev James Atwell, a farmer’s son, introduced the festival in 2007.

He said he was keen to reconnect farming with the urban life.

He said: “The sun is shining, the harvest is in, and there is a sense of joy.”

The dean knows all about all aspects of nature. His five chickens that he keeps in the garden of the Deanery were killed by a fox in the summer.

Joy Waldron, of Beechroft Farm, that produces beef, pork and lamb, at Crabwood, near Winchester, was running a stall at the farmers market on Cathedral Green.

She said: “It has a lovely atmosphere and nice to have the opportunity to speak to folk.”

On Sunday, the Dean hosted a two-course harvest lunch, made using fresh seasonal local produce, with guest speaker Julian Gibbons, chairman of Hampshire NFU.

Mr Gibbons said: “The NFU is delighted to join in celebrating the importance of agriculture to Hampshire and giving thanks for what farming delivers to each and every one of us at harvest-time.”

Instead of a sermon the cathedral held a discussion panel with TV presenter Alastair Stewart interviewing the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin, Ian Dalton, Head of the Leckford Estate, Tim Jackson, principal of Sparsholt College and George Atkinson a farmer from Lower Farm, East Meon.