The Adventures of Rodrigus the Frog

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12 November 2006

The Town Hall Keeper worth meeting

The highlight of the trip was to witness the ceremony of Charlton receiving his Freemanship of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Berwick was one of the most fought after towns between England and Scotland because of it's strategic positioning, and it changed hands between England and Scotland more than 13 times. It's well known for its defensive wall around the town centre, which we walked along, and also for being the home of the original Berwick Cockle- a white and red stripped sweet with a distinct cockle-like shape.

We stayed just near the shop where the two brothers who created the Berick Cockle still live today- but they don't make the sweets any more, and rumour has it that they are in their 80's and the magical recipe is going to die with them...

Berwick is also known for its bridges, and its salmon!

But getting back to the ceremony- some time in the 17th century some dude from my family spent 7 years serving an apprenticeship to become a Freeman of Berwick. This meant that he had a few rights to land around the town, and had to look after the town and it's administration.

Freemanship Ceremony in Berwick

The Freemanship was then passed down through the generations to the first son of the Freeman and my brother was next in line to claim and receive his Freemanship. Which he did, with all the formalities that British custom can muster! He's now the youngest (as in newest) freeman to the Guild of Freeman for Berwick. A bit of my family history for you!

Best part of the ceremony though was meeting the Town Hall Keeper- aka T.H.K. – Michael. What a friendly and fascinating guy! And sorry ladies- he's taken already and has a lovely wife and family! (Rumour has it he has a single brother though!)

Michael, the THK of Berwick

Michael took us on a tour of the Town Hall and its fascinating prison that was on top of the town hall and market. So the prisoners had some of the best views of Berwick!

If you ever get the chance to go visit Berwick- and you should, it's a lovely little town to explore- Rod and I highly recommend you go and knock on the Town Hall door, and ask for Michael, the T.H.K.

And then you must tell him Rodrigus the frog and the Simpson Family (Charlton Simpson the Freeman nogal!) sent you and you want to see the prison! I promise it will be worth it! Even if just to meet Michael!

You might even get him to join you for a glass of champagne in the local pub after work, as he did with us. Though he'll only have one glass as he has to cycle home- and home is up hill all the way!


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