Ancient ceremony of rising of the court lunch is held for last time in Wisbech

A RISING of the court lunch was held for the last time in Wisbech yesterday (Monday) ending a tradition which can be traced back to the 12th Century.

The event, hosted by the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, is to mark the annual sitting of the Crown Court in the town. However, the court will close on March 23.

During the morning High Sheriff Dr Nigel Brown, Mayor of Wisbech Councillor Nick Meekins, chairman of Fenland District Council Ralph Butcher and other dignitaries sat in the court with the resident judge, His Honour Judge Gareth Hawkesworth.

The court party then walked from the building to the Boathouse Business Centre but ran into trouble when they found their way blocked by workmen laying Tarmac.

They were eventually allowed to process along the pontoon before making their way to the Boathouse for lunch.

After lunch, Richard Barnwell, the High Sheriff in Nomination, talked about the history of Wisbech and then most of the party then went on to visit the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum.

From 1107 until 1837 the Isle of Ely was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely, but the Liberty of Ely Act ended the Bishop’s secular powers and the area was declared a division of Cambridgeshire with the right to appoint Justices to administer law and order vested in the Crown.

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In 1894 the Isle of Ely was divided into districts, which included Wisbech, the only municipal borough, and in 1965 the Isle formally became part of Cambridgeshire with regular court sittings at Wisbech.

Up until this year the administration of higher criminal court justice maintained its long association with Wisbech.