First 'Bowbearer of the Forest' appointed for 150 years

AN historic office dating back to the 12th Century has been revived in Bowland.

The 16th Lord of Bowland, who bought the manorial title in 2009, but remains anonymous, has used his powers to resurrect the historic office of Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland.

And Robert Parker, of Browsholme Hall, whose ancestors served the Lords of Bowland for three centuries, has been made the first Bowbearer of the Forest in almost 150 years.

Traditionally, the Bowbearer oversaw "vert and venison", forestry and deer, in the forest and acted as a ceremonial attendant carrying the King's bow during hunting.

At least one Bowbearer, Nicholas Tempest, met a bloody end when he was hanged, drawn and quartered for treason by Henry VIII!

As well as making this appointment, the Lord of Bowland has also chosen to revive his ancient forest courts, last convened almost two centuries ago.

The Inn at Whitewell was the Lord's ancient courthouse for more than 600 years and, to continue this tradition, current landlord Charles Bowman has been appointed Chief Steward of the Forest of Bowland. The last person to hold this title retired in 1922.

The unexpected news has been accompanied by sumptuous grants and Mr Parker intends to display his at Browsholme Hall.

"It has been sad no appointment of Bowbearer has been made for 150 years, by previous Lords of Bowland. Even though the role may be purely honorific, links with our past are so often lost cheaply or discarded without an appreciation of their worth," Robert Parker said.

"At Browsholme we are completing the refurbishment of a listed tithe barn to improve our tourism potential. The appointment of Bowbearer is therefore most timely. The 'grant' will be placed on view to our visitors, with other articles associated with the Bowbearer."

Mr Parker added the Bowbearer has been associated with the Parkers of Browsholme since 1381. "Last year, Mr Stephen Jolly, Fellow of Clare College, wrote to me with his research into the origins of the Bowbearer and authenticated seven generations of Parkers who have held the appointment since the mid 17th Century!

"At Browsholme we have certainly three portraits of the Bowbearer, the last being Thomas Lister Parker, who was the penultimate appointment."