Living history was enacted on Sunday 19 March 2017 with the installation of a new Chief Steward and Honorary Recorder of the City of Hereford.
The origins of these two offices lie deep in the City’s history and they reflect the authority under which Hereford City Council holds its power. This authority is the Crown, through the medium of the Law, and the two senior civic dignitaries are distinguished individuals, either as members of the legal profession or having professional connections with the law and law-making.
The Chief Steward is an ancient Office and the right to appoint one is granted directly by the Sovereign. Hereford has several Royal Charters granting and confirming this right, and Elizabeth I’s Great Charter of 1597, which sets out the duties and privileges of the Mayor, Aldermen and Officers, confirmed the City’s right to appoint ‘one illustrious and discreet man’ as Chief Steward. In more modern times the Chief Steward has been described as ‘an officer of great dignity and some influence, but with practically no duties or emoluments’! – although, as a prominent member of the House of Lords, the Chief Steward works ‘in the interest of the City and the cause of its people’ by seeing that its interests are not overlooked in the corridors of power.
The Honorary Recorder is a modern version of the historic Recorder, who dispensed justice in the City at the Court of Quarter Sessions. Changes to the legal system mean that the post of Recorder is now honorary and is usually held by a Circuit Judge, to emphasise the historic heritage of the City and give recognition to the role of judges in creating a safe and secure environment for the exercise of local government.
For many years the Chief Steward of the City of Hereford has been The Lord Temple-Morris of Llandaff and of Leominster and the Honorary Recorder has been His Honour Judge Toby Hooper QC. Because of retirements and other changes it has been necessary to make these new appointments.
The new Chief Steward of the City of Hereford is well-known in this area – the Lord Lisvane (Robert), Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and a Deputy Lieutenant for Herefordshire is a former Clerk of the House of Commons; was knighted in 2012 and was given a peerage for public service in 2014. Robert’s family has long connections with the Marches: his mother was descended from Einion ap Collwyn (known as “Einion the Traitor” allegedly for letting the Normans into Wales in 1087). He and his wife Jane, The Reverend Lady Lisvane (who next month becomes the High Sheriff of Herefordshire) have lived at Blakemere for 40 years, in the house where Robert’s parents began their married life.
The new Honorary Recorder is His Honour Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC, who was appointed a Circuit Judge in July 2004 and sits regularly at Hereford Crown Court. Judge Pearce-Higgins moved from London to Herefordshire with his wife and four children 25 years ago, to the house where his wife was brought up and her parents had lived since 1956. His Honour and his wife are both committed to a wide range of activities in the County.
The ceremony was a unique event in the City’s long history. Hereford City Council were proud to involve young people from the City with the Chairman of the Hereford City Youth Council, Mr Arron Baldwin welcoming the newly appointed Civic Officers and offering the vision of young people for the future of the City of Hereford at the Service of Dedication in St Peter’s Church following the Installation Ceremony in the Town Hall.