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Berkshire: The Royal County

Berkshire is unique amongst English counties in being a Royal County. The title dates from 1958 when it was granted by the Queen in recognition of Berkshire’s strong royal links. The royal link is maintained not just through the title but also through the county’s two crown officers, the High Sheriff and the Lord-Lieutenant.

The High Sheriff’s role is Saxon in origin. Historically the ‘shire-reeve’ was the monarch’s agent for taxation and law and order in the county. The High Sheriff is still nominally responsible for ensuring that writs of the High Court are enforced in the county and for receiving judges visiting the county, although in practice much of this work is carried out by the Undersheriff.

Since medieval times the High Sheriff has been an annual appointment, and the tradition is that it cannot be refused if offered. The High Sheriff at the time of the Golden Jubilee was Timothy Dawson, and the Undersheriff  was Nicholas Blandy.

(below) Sir Edward Barry of Ockwells Manor, Bray, High Sheriff in 1907. (Q/Z1/29)

Sir Edward Barry

The first Lord-Lieutenants were appointed to counties in 1545 for the purpose of organising the local militia to defend the realm against invasion or rebellion.

Today the Lord-Lieutenant is the Queen’s personal representative in the county for civic matters, and attends royal events in the county. He is also the Custos Rotulorum – the keeper of the county justices’ records. As such he maintains an important link with the county’s archives and Berkshire Record Office. The Lord-Lieutenant at the time of the Golden Jubilee was Sir Philip Wroughton.

Sir Philip Wroughton(left) Sir Philip Wroughton walking behind Her
 Majesty the Queen at Bisham Abbey, May 2002.



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2 response(s) so far…

andrew french (Asst Hon Curator Berks Yeo Musuem)
Posted on the : 13 May 2015

Sir EA Barry wears the full dress of the Berkshire Imperial Yeomanry, dark blue, red facings and silver lace. We have examples of the uniform in the regimental museum, but no pictures of anyone wearing it. Would it be possible to obtain a digital copy please?

Posted on the : 14 May 2015

Hello Andrew Yes we can provide a copy of this image. Please could you use the Contact Us form (on the left) in order to send us an email? We can then reply with a form for you to complete. We can also tell you the cost involved depending on your requirements. Thank you.


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