Thursday, April 01, 2010

The High Sheriff.

Yesterday I attended the Shrievalty Service and Declaration Ceremony of Mrs Jennifer Anne Thomas as High Sheriff of Powys. Jenny lives near my village of Berriew, and is a family friend She looked very fine, all kitted out in the proper gear. While I'm a huge fan of the office of High Sheriff, I still look on it as High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire - which means that for me the role exists fully only for one year in three. Radnorshire, and Breconshire do the providing the rest of the time. Three years ago, we ceremonially declared another good friend of mine, James Turner, at an event which was also subject to a blog post.

As usual a High Court judge is present to read the Royal Warrant. This time it was His Honour, Judge Philip Hughes. As is traditional, he gave us a bit of the history. The post of High Sheriff has existed continuously for over 1000 years, and is only beaten by as an office of state for longevity by the Monarchy itself. And of course the Monarchy did have a gap after Charles 1st was executed. Another interesting aspect of this office is that it was an early example of devolution. Up until Henry the Eighth's centralising ways, the office of High Sheriff in Wales had developed in an entirely different way from that in England.

We heard, as we did three years ago, about a previous High Sheriff who, for fund raising purposes, kidnapped all the mistresses of the clergy in his patch, demanding ransoms for their return. Don't know whether he stole mistresses because they commanded a better return than wives. Perhaps stealing mistresses was deemed more morally acceptable. He also told us about another High Sheriff who raised money by combining fund raising events with executions. One invitation sent out inviting guests to a fund raising function read "He drops at 8, breakfast at 9".

Anyway, it was a good do. Berriew Church was full. Quartet from Llanfyllin High School entertained us. (much better than an execution!). And then we all went over to the Lion far a drink and bits afterwards. In three weeks time we have Her Majesty coming to Welshpool for the morning as one of Jenny's first official occasions. They don't come much bigger than that. If Radio Cymru cover the visit I'll probably have another chance to use 'Gwerinllywodraeth', the enunciation of which gave me so much pleasure on my recent appearance on Pawb a'i Farn - when I was the only person in the studio to oppose the idea. Yesterday, there was probably not a single one of the 200 of us who agreed.

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