Warnham Park owner to become next High Sheriff of West Sussex

JPCT 070314 S14110100x Warnham Park - new High Sheriff for West Sussex Jonathan Lucas. -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140703-111652001
JPCT 070314 S14110100x Warnham Park - new High Sheriff for West Sussex Jonathan Lucas. -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140703-111652001

A man from Warnham will become the High Sheriff of West Sussex later this month after the Queen ‘pricked’ his name during an ancient ceremony last week.

Jonathan Lucas, the owner of Warnham Park, was officially confirmed to be the next high sheriff by the Queen as she used a silver bodkin to ‘prick’ his name which was on a list written on parchment of all new high sheriffs for England and Wales.

Legend has it the silver bodkin used to this day was originally used by Queen Elizabeth I, who was embroidering when she was asked to mark the names on the list.

She couldn’t find a pen so used the bodkin instead to prick them.

Another story has it that the reason the bodkin came to be used is because the list is traditionally produced on vellum and pricking the vellum is more permanent than making a mark with ink which could be tampered with.

The modern day form of the ceremony, carried out by the Queen at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace last week, dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

During that time, in 1878, Mr Lucas’s great-great-grandfather Charles Thomas was also appointed High Sheriff of West Sussex. Shortly after the queen’s death his great-grandfather Charles James took the role in 1903.

Elsewhere Charles Thomas’s brother Morton Peto was appointed High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1899.

Mr Lucas, a father of three, said: “The office goes back to 992. Nobody wanted to become High Sheriff and to be afforded the office because of the liability that went with it, particularly financial liability.

“Pricking the name was an indelible mark.

“The king had to show himself to control the land and make sure there were no rebellions happening. The way he did that was to travel around. The ‘shire reeve’ would travel within the county like a protection officer. It’s morphed into different things over its 1,000 year life. Now it’s ceremonial.”

High Sheriffs are the Queen’s official judicial representative in each county supporting the law courts, emergency services and voluntary crime prevention organisations.

Many of their powers have not been transferred to Lord Lieutenants, High Court judges, magistrates, local authorities, coroners and even the Inland Revenue.

They often have chosen charities and projects they support for the year in office.

He said: “I will meet lots of wonderful people in the judiciary, voluntary and charities,

“These stories are inspiring and don’t get publicised. That’s going to be a real joy.

“It’s going to be a life changing year. I think it’s important not to initiate any project that can’t be sustained after you leave.

“There are certain organisations with whom there is a good rapport and I want to perpetuate that. I don’t want to be defined by a project.

“My project is West Sussex, but the usual interest is all matters judicial - the police the emergency services, especially the voluntary sector and involved in all matter judicial.

“My charity for the year is St Catherine’s Hospice because my wife and I are closely involved already.”

On March 24 he will join the High Sheriff for East Sussex at Lewes Law Courts to officially take up his post.