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29th Jun, 2022

Campaign victory as Alcester Court Leet no-women tradition overturned

THE ONGOING campaign to allow women to stand or vote for Alcester Court Leet officers has finally proved victorious.

The male only institution – whose ceremonial tradition is derived from the historic civil courts of England – plays a key role in the civic life of the market town.

Traditionally, elections were for positions like ale tasters, bread weighers and constable. Today, the court has a hand in activities including organising the annual Mop Fair, supporting the town council, appointing the town crier and officers hold trustee roles for several local charities.

It is thought be the only one among some 30 across the country – including neighbouring Warwick and Henley Court Leets – which do not allow women among its ranks.

However, following a review of its policies, Lord of the Manor of Alcester Court Leet, the Marquess of Hertford, announced the court would ‘elect jurors to the court irrespective of gender’.

The decision follows a recent petition of over 1,000 signatures and over two years of campaign work from group Equa-Leety 4 Alcester which has argued civic duties, represented by the court, should be open to everyone.

An announcement read: “[Lord Hertford] has now completed that review and decided that the functions of the Court Leet in serving the community of Alcester will best be promoted by electing Jurors to the Court irrespective of gender and thereby eligible for election as officers.

“Lord Hertford welcomes this change and hopes that his court will continue to serve Alcester as it has done over past centuries.”

The change is set to come into force next October.

On behalf of Equa-Leety 4 Alcester, a spokesperson said: “We’re absolutely thrilled and grateful to everyone involved in this decision. It’s in keeping with the spirit of the town, which has shown such strength of character, generosity and inclusivity in recent times.

“We’re proud of what our Court Leet does for our town and this latest change will allow for important female representation.

“It will also help the sustainability of the court for many years to come by significantly increasing the number of people eligible to be officers and allowing opportunities for the children of Alcester to learn more about the inclusive court and support its work.”

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