In my search for something different I came across the following:-
The ancient Bideford Manor Court ceremony is an annual custom dating back to the Elizabethan age – and this year is due to take place on Saturday 25th March 2017.
The Court was set up by an Elizabethan charter in 1573. It was also granted three fairs for the town through the year.
The principal purpose of the Court, apart from preserving the traditional Ceremony, is to receive Presentments from the electors within the parish of Bideford for deliberation by the Council, in the interests of the Town. These Presentments will be considered and presented to the Court by the Jury, the members of which are required to be electors within the parish of Bideford, sworn in at the Court for that purpose. Applicants who wish to attend, and those sending in presentments all need to be Bidefordians.
The Mayor presides and a guest speaker is invited along to “entertain” the participants while the jurors deliberate on the presentments before them!
Having found it I was intrigued and went searching further – and I found this:
Having been revived in 1978, the court still presides over the serious business of listening to the ‘presentments’ made by the people of Bideford and the town council swears a pledge to hear and make every effort to resolve those brought before it at the court, in the following months.
A jury of six men and six women, representing all the wards in Bideford deliberate the presentments, which are put before the council for consideration by the jury foreman.
Bideford councillors were last week asked to put forward names for jurors who have to be “fine and upstanding” members of the community who are on the register of electors.
This led me to…..
THE ancient tradition of Manor Court in Bideford took place over the weekend.
Bideford’s annual event allows residents to voice their concerns to the town council.
People from the town put suggestions, known as presentments, to the town council. The council can then agree to act on them, as best they can, over the next 12 months.
The court itself dates back to Saxon times when it was a feudal court of law which dealt with matters arising within the manor either law related or civil.
Bideford Town Council hosted the event in the town hall on Saturday.
Each year presentments are put before the court, after consideration by a jury.
The jury consists of electors within the parish of Bideford who are sworn in at the court.
While the jury deliberates on which presentments to put to the town council, a guest speaker gives a talk.
This year Appledore author, Nick Arnold, gave a speech. Councillor Mollie Fulford and her husband, deputy mayor, David Fulford said they enjoyed this year’s event.
Mrs Fulford said: “I thought it was very good. The author gave an extremely good talk. It was interesting and about various things which happened in Appledore. It really was a very good manor court.”
Mr Fulford said: “It was a nice ceremony and Bideford Band were playing.”
Some of the presentments heard on Saturday included:-
That the appropriate authorities be contacted, in respect of the very poor stone paving across the road at the bottom of the High Street in Bideford and along Mill Street and Grenville street where it is uneven, for urgent repair.
That the council contacts whoever is responsible for the upkeep of the historic bollards along the quay, and sponsors their repainting and repair.
That the Bideford Station approach steps and handrail, leading from the Tarka Trail to the Royal Hotel car park, which are currently neglected and overgrown, be tidied and repaired to be made safe for public use.
With all of this I just had to go further and found that for this year the following notice was published by H.J. Blackburn the Manor Steward:-
Notice is hereby given that Bideford Manor Court will be held on Saturday 25 March 2017 at 10.30 in the forenoon within the Town Hall, Bideford. Presentments from registered electors in the parish of Bideford for consideration of the Court are invited by submission in writing, addressed to the Foreman of the Jury, c/o the Manor Steward, Town Clerk’s Office, Town Hall, Bideford to arrive no later than 12 Noon, Monday 6 March 2017.
And this then led me to the following from the Bideford Buzz posted on
February 7th 2017 by Tango Alpha
The Ceremony of Bideford Manor Court, 25th March.
BIDEFORD residents are being called on to use an ancient right to make suggestions for town improvements.
Opportunity is being made for members of the public to take an active involvement in the centuries-old Manor Court Ceremony. Currently held on a Saturday in March, the ceremony was originally held to allow townspeople to bring issues before the Lords of the Manor for consideration. Nowadays, their ideas or “presentments” as they are known are put to the Town Council, which has an obligation to consider them.
Now the Town Council is opening the way for public attendance and is also calling for ideas and projects that would make Bideford a better place for the community and tourists to be put forward. Any member of the public residing in the Parish of Bideford who wishes to submit a ‘presentment’, should do so by 12 Noon, Monday 6 March 2017. The envelope should be marked for the attention of the Manor Steward.
Presentments submitted to the Town Council are considered by a chosen jury of 12 respected town residents and the most feasible are presented to the court.
Actions regarding presentments of the previous year are also reported.
Anyone wishing to take part in the occasion is invited to complete the application form and return it to the Town Clerk. If there are too many applicants a draw will be made by the Mayor to fill the available places. Those chosen will be able to take a guest and will also be invited to the Civic Reception following the Ceremony.