A special handover ceremony for the next High Sheriff of Rutland has taken place at Oakham Castle.
The castle has been closed to the public for major restoration work since September 2015 but reopened briefly on Thursday for the declaration of new High Sheriff Dr Sarah Furness.
Dr Furness, from Whissendine, took her oath of office for 2016-17 before the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland Dr Laurence Howard.
Dr Furness said: “I feel deeply honoured to take the role of High Sheriff and look forward to supporting the county of Rutland, which I love. I hope people will contact me and use the role for the benefit of all in Rutland.
“In addition to visiting public services, schools, homes for the elderly and supporting charities I am holding some events to raise money for charity.”
Dr Furness takes over the role of High Sheriff from Andrew Brown.
He said: “It has been an absolute joy to serve as Her Majesty’s High Sheriff of Rutland for the last 12 months and I thank the people of Rutland for their support during my year.
“It is very important we uphold this ancient office. Even though it may seem strange for a tight-wearing, sword-bearing man to be walking the streets of Rutland, it is part of what make us who we are as English people and if we start to lose these traditions we lose part of our national identity.”
The office of High Sheriff dates back more than 1,000 years and the High Sheriff remains the Sovereign’s representative in the county for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.
Oakham Castle will now remain closed until its grand reopening on Monday, May 30, when a day of Norman celebrations is planned to welcome visitors back to the site. There will be a host of free events and activities taking place on the day, including Norman coin striking, falconry, archery and weaving.
The reopening of Oakham Castle also coincides with the return of the High Sheriff’s Hue and Cry – a centuries’ old tradition that upholds the sheriff’s ancient right to call on good people to assist in apprehending criminals and villains.
The event will see races in Oakham High Street, Morris men dancing and a market.
To register for the High Sheriff’s Hue and Cry, e-mail: RutlandSheriff16@gmail.com