The Sheriff of Lichfield’s Ride – over 450 years of history
On the 7th September I took part in the historic Sheriff of Lichfield’s Ride after being kindly invited by the Sheriff, Dr Daryl Brown. This unique tradition dates from Queen Mary’s Charter of 1553, in which Lichfield was separated from Staffordshire and made a ‘City and County’ with a right to appoint its own Sheriff.
The Charter commanded the Sheriff of Lichfield to make a ‘complete perambulation’ of the City boundary each year, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; a tradition which has been upheld to this day, even during the War years.
This year, the Ride assembled at Lichfield College Campus and then made its way to the Guildhall where the Sheriff officially addressed the audience and announced the beginning of the Ride. He led the Ride out of the city centre and then followed a route of around 20 miles around the boundary of the city, which included both cross country paths and bridle ways. At all times the Ride was accompanied by the Police and mounted marshals, as well as a number of support vehicles, including paramedics, a vet and an equine ambulance. There was a mid-morning break and a lunch stop for refreshments, which were very welcome! It was great to see the Police Cadets out in force assisting with traffic management at the lunch stop. I was particularly happy to see Sapphire, one of the High Sheriff Cadets.
Unfortunately, on the morning of the Ride, the Sheriff’s own horse broke its leg. Daryl was understandably devastated but with his amazing sense of duty, decided to go ahead with the Ride – not only for tradition, but also for the 50 plus riders who were taking part. I am full of admiration for his amazing bravery. A friend’s horse was quickly secured to enable him to participate in the ride.
I was joined by my eldest son, Zack, who acted as my consort, and we joined Daryl’s parents and his consort, his daughter Imogen, in a carriage which took us out of the city. We then followed the Ride in a car, admirably driven by the charming Harry.
It was a day tinged with sadness due to Daryl’s loss and I am sure privately the family would have shed tears, but it was a privilege to be part of such a historical and traditionally event. As the Sheriff said, “the Ride must go on”.