Guild Ceremonial Traditions
With a long history, the Guild is steeped in tradition
Throughout its history, Preston Guild has always been focussed on the first week in September, even though celebrations have taken place before and after. It is during this week that the ceremonial and civic events take place, of which the timing has remained the same time since 1952.
The civic events are our link with the unique history of Preston Guild and all those people who have celebrated it before us. They are at the heart of England’s oldest festival, by bringing past traditions into present day.
“Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” On the three Saturdays proceeding the Guild, crowds gather to witness a tradition dating back to medieval Preston. In accordance with ancient custom, the Guild proclamations take place to announce a Guild is approaching and summons all those wishing to attend.
During such events the Guild Mayor and civic party arrive via a regalia party carrying the superb civic regalia of the ancient borough of Preston. This is preceded by the Clerk of the Guild who reads out the proclamation. The crowd is then addressed by the Guild Mayor before being entertained with music, street theatre and colourful spectacles.
The Guild Court
This traditional ceremony is the heart of Preston Guild. The order of proceedings is carefully followed Guild after Guild, forming an unbroken link with Preston of the Middle Ages. The pageantry, splendour and colour makes the occasion one of drama and magnificence.
During the ceremony, the Clerk of the Guild recites the charters associated with the ancient Guild. The names on the Guild roll are then called so that burgesses can renew their franchise and new hereditary burgesses can be admitted.
Formal Adjournment of the Guild Court
In comparison to the Guild court, this is a shorter, but no less magnificent, civic ceremony.
During this court, new Honorary Burgesses are admitted by the Guild Mayor. These are traditionally people who have been of service to the Guild and to Preston. Such people include past Mayors and, in 1992, Sir Tom Finney. In 2012 this tradition widened to allow more people, nominated by the community, to become Honorary Burgesses. After the new burgesses are admitted the court is adjourned for another 20 years - a poignant moment.
The Guild Mayor's Civic Procession and Divine Service
The civic procession is the first procession of Guild week and reflects the civic pride of Preston.
During this time the Guild Mayor, his regalia party, Guild officials and invited guests are led by a band from the Guild Hall to the Minster. The event brings together representatives of the services, schools and youth groups of the City and sets the scene for the celebrations to come. After the service the procession returns to the Guild Hall for a Mayoral reception.
Mayoral International Reception
Since the 1952 Guild, the Mayor has held an International Reception to welcome a large number of visitors from overseas. These include ex-Prestonians and people whose ancestors call Preston home.
In 1992, around 1,700 people enjoyed refreshments, entertainment, speeches and nostalgia at this event. The scrolls of friendship were displayed, souvenirs purchased and visitors signed the Overseas Visitors Book.
Guild Mayor's Civic Procession to Service of Thanksgiving
Similar to the first civic procession at the beginning of Guild week, a second civic procession is held to mark the end of the Guild celebrations.
Following a similar pattern as on the first Sunday of Guild week, Preston witnesses the last procession of the Guild as the civic party make their way, once more, from the Guild Hall to the Minster. The service this time is one of thanksgiving for the week past and no doubt looking ahead to the continuing prosperity of the City in the next 20 years.