Fringe Box



The Judiciary Procession In Pictures

Published on: 4 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 8 Oct, 2013
Local Plan Banner 480

On the way to the procession (Friday, October 4), a banner over the High Street to remind us all to take part in the council’s consultation on the Local Plan.

Guildford in Bloom 480

It might be early October and a bit damp but Guildford is still in bloom with floral baskets provided and maintained by the borough council’s Parks Department.

Judiciary Procession 480

The procession begins. In the lead contingent are civic representatives from nearby boroughs and, at the front (grey jacket) Guildford’s MP Anne Milton.

Aldermen 3 480

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr David Elms (on the right) leads Freeman Andrew Hodges (blue trimmed gown), Hon Remembrancer Matthew Alexander (with beard) and the red robed Hon Aldermen. Bringing up the rear, leading the councillors, in their black gowns, is council leader Stephen Mansbridge.

Trumpeters 480

Trumpeters from the London Banqueting Ensemble, on the steps of Holy Trinity Church, sound a fanfare as each part of the procession approaches.

Judiciary 1 480

After a suitable delay, the judiciary turn up and turn to climb the steps of Holy Trinity for a church service.

Four facts about the Judicial Service

  • The Service for the Judiciary is a service held annually in early October to celebrate the start of the new legal term and offer support to those responsible for keeping the law of the land.
  • It is organised in collaboration with the High Sheriff of Surrey and Surrey County Council
  • During the service the High Sheriff reads an Affirmation of the Shrieval Promise and the Chief Constable of Surrey reads a Declaration of Commitment to Public Service
  • Crown Court, district and circuit judges and magistrates join our borough councillors, freemen and aldermen and take part in a procession to Holy Trinity Church

In the deliberate gap between the party of councillors and the judiciary fanfares are played by trumpeters, a tradition thought to go back hundreds of years, supposedly because the judiciary wished to keep their distance from the hoi poilloi.

Matthew Alexander, Guildford’s honorary remembrancer, who took part in the procession, has kindly provided this short account of the ceremonies’ history (previously published last year):

The annual judiciary service has its origins in the service held to mark the opening of the assizes, the medieval criminal courts in which serious offences were tried by the Crown’s itinerant judges. These judges travelled around ‘circuits’ of counties.

The High Sheriff of Surrey, traditionally leads the judicial section of the procession

The central courts were based in London, and the counties around London formed the ‘home’ circuit.  Surrey thus became one of the ‘home counties’. Guildford was one the towns in Surrey where the assizes were held. In Georgian times the High Sheriff often entertained the judges at the home of the town clerk of Guildford, now known as Guildford House.

The grand first-floor room overlooking the High Street became known as ‘the Sheriff’s Parlour’. At that time, there were relatively few cases to bring to the assizes and consequently the sessions lasted only a week or two. This meant that Guildford was reluctant to build a dedicated court room for them.

The Guildhall was used, then a series of other multi-use halls, none of which were really suitable. Finally, the judges’ patience ran out. In 1930 the assizes were removed from Guildford and transferred to Kingston upon Thames, which had a purpose-built court.

At the end of the 18th century, the Sheriff’s court dress, with velvet knee-breeches and a smallsword, became fixed. When the first female sheriffs were appointed, they were not expected to wear the male court dress or sword, but could have a sword carried before them by a sword-bearer.

The Courts Act of 1971 abolished the assizes and replaced them with crown courts, and the opening of Guildford’s crown court restored the town’s status as a major centre of justice in the county. In 2005 the introduction of Her Majesty’s Courts Service saw the magistrates being amalgamated with the judges for the first time.

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