New Worcester swordbearer is sworn in, in 400-year-old tradition

A new bearer of the Sword of State for Worcester has been sworn in, continuing a 400-year tradition.

Stuart Wood, a familiar face to visitors to the city's historic Guildhall, has taken on the role, receiving the sword from Frank Southam, who has retired after being Worcester swordbearer for 33 years.

The handover was made in a ceremony at the Guildhall, overseen by the Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Louis Stephen, and watched by Worcester City Council's political leaders and senior managers.

Stuart Wood agreed to the swordbearer's traditional oath:

"You will be good and true to our Sovereign, to his heirs and successors, Kings and Queens of Great Britain, and to the Mayor of the City of Worcester for the time being, upon him you shall five diligent attendance, and all other things which belong to the Worships of the said City and appertaining to the office of a swordbearer of the said City, you duly do and execute during such time as you shall continue in the office of a swordbearer, so help you God."

The new swordbearer will now carry the Sword of State in front of the Mayor of Worcester on all civic occasions and on entry to full Council meetings. The carrying of the sword signifies the protection of the Mayor.

The right for Worcester to have a Sword of State was granted by King James I in 1621, but the original sword disappeared at the time of the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The current sword is a replacement made in 1657. It is engraved with the name of its maker, Peter English, and bears the arms of King William III and the City of Worcester. The sword's scabbard was refurbished in 1996 and is covered in velvet with silver gilt lockets.

The swordbearer wears an elaborate 'Cap of Maintenance', decorated with ostrich feathers. Worcester is one of only seven cities in Britain to have the honour of its swordbearer being permitted to wear such a hat.

Outgoing Frank Southam (left) presents the Sword of State to new swordbearer Stuart Wood, watched by the Mayor, Councillor Louis Stephen and Rob McCarthy, Guildhall services assistant
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