CHESHIRE’S new High Sheriff was literally “hand pricked” by the Queen during an ancient ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Last November Diana Caroline Barbour, of Tattenhall, Chester, was nominated in a ceremony at London’s High Court which pre-dates the Norman Conquest to take her place in history as one of the latest incumbents of the oldest secular office in Britain.
And last month that nomination was officially confirmed by the Queen as she used a silver bodkin to “prick” her name which was on a list written on parchment of all new High Sheriffs for England and Wales.
Diana Barbour is the director of Bolesworth Estate and the widow of Anthony Barbour who died in 2007 and was also a former High Sheriff of Cheshire as well as a deputy lieutenant of Cheshire. She has two daughters Nina and Cleo.
Two major projects she has been involved in recently are proposals for a huge elderly care village on the Bolesworth Estate, creating more than 100 jobs, and the development of a £2.5 canal marina in tattenhall.
Following this ceremony the High Sheriff will now make a declaration in accordance with the 1887 Sheriffs Act some time during the next few weeks and will take office after that.
The unique ceremony carried out by the Queen at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria and is the way monarchs give their Royal seal of approval to the incoming High Sheriffs.
The office of High Sheriff, however, stretches back much farther than Victorian times.
‘Shire Reeves’ as they were originally known were appointed for each county and used to have to give account to the reigning monarch once a year of the money they had collected on behalf of the monarch.
Originally the High Sheriffs office held many of the powers now vested in Lord Lieutenants, High Court judges, magistrates, local authorities, coroners and even the Inland Revenue. Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county.
However, over time, most of the responsibilities of the office have been transferred elsewhere or rendered obsolete, and the functions of the post are now almost entirely ceremonial.