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Norwich

(With acknowledgements to Norwich City Council)

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Introducing...

The Sheriff of Norwich

2022-2023 Caroline Jarrold

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History

 

The Office of Sheriff is one of the oldest appointments to have survived into modern local government.  In Norwich, the Office dates from a Charter of HenryIV granted in 1404.  

 

The Charter made Norwich into 'The County of the City of Norwich' giving the people the right to govern independently from the county of Norfolk which meant the need for its own Sheriffs.  There were two Sheriffs within Norwich up until The Corporations Act of 1835 in which local government was completely overhauled.

The Sheriffs were responsible for keeping the prison and exercising judicial powers including the overseeing of sentencing and executions.  They held a County Court in Norwich at least every month and often as much as twice a week, depending on demand.  These Courts were for hearing actions for debt and trespass amongst other misdemeanours and became known as the Sheriff's Court. 

 

Over the centuries the powers of the Office dwindled to little more than being responsible for summoning jurors and executing writs.  Under the more recent government reforms of 1974 the duties of the Sheriff of Norwich became purely ceremonial.  

The Local Government Act of 1974 (the causative process for the reforms executed in 1974) provided that only the counties created by the Act would be allowed to appoint Sheriffs to carry out the surviving official duties of the post.  Norwich, as a City, lost its county status and became once again under the authority of the County Sheriff - the High Sheriff of Norfolk.  The duties of acting as a Returning Officer for Parliamentary elections were passed to the Lord Mayor of Norwich which remains under their jurisdiction to this day. 

Norwich's City Council decided in 1973 that it should apply for a new Charter which would give it the status of 'Borough'.  This would allow the City to retain some of its traditional privileges including the right to continue to appoint a Sheriff as a 'local officer of dignity'.  Although the Office would only be of civic and ceremonial significance the City was gratified to be granted the Charter in 1974.  

Customs and Traditions

The 'Big Event' of the City of Norwich's calendar is the Lord Mayor's Procession.  The procession marches, ambles, and dances through the main streets of the city in July led by the  Town Crier and the 'Sergeants-at-Mace'.  

 

The Sheriff accompanies the Lord Mayor in the procession and joins in with the rest of the weekend celebrations.

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Beryl Blower Sheriff of Norwich 2015-2016 wears the original Sheriff's chains used for formal occasions. 

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Sheriff's Chains

The original Sheriff's chains (left) were given in 1757 by Matthew Goss, a wealthy dyer and Freeman.  The beautiful and more elaborate chains have been worn by the Sheriff for formal and important events. 

However, because of their historical importance and as they not practical for everyday wear, new chains have been made to be worn on a daily basis at civic functions (right).

Crafted by local goldsmith Sonkai – a family business in the centre of the city – the new chains, made of gold-plated sterling silver, tell a story of Norwich through motifs depicting significant aspects of history – past and recent.

The design process in itself was very unique, and involved fact-finding trips around Norwich from the Castle to the Council, taking in the history, symbolism and architecture and embellished with stories and facts from people along the way. 

 

The new chains have the flexibility of adding new motifs. They can be worn with robes, day dress or eveningwear by any gender, in three different ways, whereas the old chains were designed for male Lord Mayors wearing the robes of office. The crests of the Sheriff and Lord Mayor have been retained within the new design.

The new chains were funded by the Freemen of Norwich and presented to the City in 2016.

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The Sheriff of Norwich, 2016-2017 Richard Marks accepts the new Chains of Office from the goldsmiths, Sankai alongside the Lord Mayor

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David Walker, Sheriff of Norwich 2017 wears the new chains. 

Into the 21st Century

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Sheriff of Norwich 2019-2021
Dr Marian Prinsley celebrates International Women's Day with local branch of
Soroptimist International (above) and supports a local restaurant's contribution to helping the elderly at Christmas

The Sheriff of Norwich's role is largely ceremonial and each Sheriff will make their own mark upon it.  Today the Sheriff of Norwich upholds a civic presence and function by: 

  • Attending events to which the Civic Party is invited

  • Undertaking specific functions as invited.

  • Deputising at certain functions for the Lord Mayor in their absence.

  • Giving general support to the Lord Mayor as required.

  • Promoting the history, role and function of the Office of Sheriff

  • Supporting, promoting and celebrating local community groups, charities and initiatives

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Caroline Jarrold, Sheriff of Norwich 2021 helps promotes a local 'Politico-Panto' with the character playing the Sheriff of Norwich

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Beryl Blower, Sheriff of Norwich 2015-2016 slept 'under the stars' on a cold February night to raise funds and awareness of 'rough sleepers' in Norwich along with the Lord Mayor.  They were the first to sign up for the Christian charity's fundraiser.

Sheriffs of Norwich

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Richard Marks, Sheriff of Norwich 2016-2017

Year       Sheriff

1984       Lila Cooper

1985       Geoffrey Goreham

1986       Arthur Clare

1987       Leonard Stevenson

1988       Rev Jack Burton

1989       Jill Miller

1990       Brian Watkins

1991       Jill Miller

1992       Brenda Ferris-Rampley

1993       Phillip Read

1994       William Carpenter

1995       Douglas Underwood

1996       Ralph Gayton

1997       Audrey Brown

1998       Jennifer Lay

1999       Peter Jarrold

2000      Roger Sandall

2001       Sheila Kefford

2002       Bryan Gunn

2003       Moya Wilson

2004       Paul King OBE

 

 

 

Year       Sheriff

2005       Brenda Arthur

2006       John Drake

2007       Nick Williams

2008       Roy Waller

2009       Tim O’Riordan

2010       Derek James

2011        Chris Higgins

2012        John Jennings

2013        Graham Creelman

2014        William Armstrong

2015         Beryl Blower

2016        Richard Marks

2017         David Walker

2018         Ros Brown

2019         Marian Prinsley

2020        Marian Prinsley

2021         Caroline Jarrold 

2022         Caroline Jarrold   

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Ros Brown, Sheriff of Norwich 2018-2019