Preston Guild 2012
Your guide to all things related to the 2012 Guild celebrations
the history and traditions of Preston Guild - England’s oldest festival in Britain’s youngest city!
WALLACE AND GROMIT (Mr Park is a Prestonian) at PRESTON GUILD LAUNCH
Preston Guild is a historic celebration dating back to 1179. It is the only Guild still celebrated in the UK and as such is unique. The 2012 celebration will be the first Guild in the 21st century and the first since the granting of Preston’s city status in 2002. Held only once every twenty years, the Guild plays an important role in the development of Preston as a thriving and important Lancashire city. The changing times mean that each Guild has its own identity but shares a heritage of over 800 years.
Residents and visitors, artists and businesses, athletes and performers – everyone gets involved in Preston Guild. The Guild has a long history and has evolved over the centuries, but one thing that has always remained the central focus of the Guild is people -the people who plan it, participate in it, promote it and the people who tell their stories of the Guild to children and grandchildren
A burgess is a registered member of the Guild Merchant whose history goes back to 1179.
Over the centuries the nature of the membership changed. New members could be admitted in a number of ways - by serving an apprenticeship in a trade, by being rewarded for services to the Guild or as a special honour. By paying a substantial fee, people living outside of the town could become “out burgesses”. However, as membership was hereditary and there was no restriction on where later generations of burgesses lived, the distinction between ‘in’ or ‘out’ burgesses soon became blurred although the current Guild roll still lists them separately.
To refresh and renew the Guild and to ensure the rights could be passed down to the next generation, a Guild Court was held. In 1542 it was agreed that this would take place every 20 years – a tradition still in place today. Only the Second World War has interrupted Preston Guild, when it was postponed to 1952. In 1992 history was made as daughters of existing burgesses were admitted to the Guild for the first time, numbering 274 out of a total of 808.
In 2012 all sons and daughters of the 1992 burgesses will be entitled to be admitted making the task of tracing all eligible people back to the original family name quite a challenge!
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