Sir Tony Baldry has been appointed to the position by Banbury Town Council, which had been occupied continuously from the time of Mary I in the 16th Century until 1968 when the previous holder of the post, father of the current Lord Saye and Sele of Broughton Castle, died.
Sir Tony said: “Banbury is a wonderful town with a remarkable history. I was proud to represent its residents in Parliament for more than three decades.
“I am honoured to be appointed High Steward and will do my utmost to uphold the office in a proper manner.
“Although I will have no specific duties it will, I hope, provide me with the opportunity to play a constructive part in the life of the town.
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In today’s civic hierarchy a High Steward, who has to be at least a knight of the realm, is an ‘officer of dignity and influence’ but with few specific duties and no monetary rewards.
In the middle ages, a High Steward had great authority and oversaw the administration of local courts on behalf of the lord of the manor.
By the 17th Century the importance of the office had declined to a mainly ceremonial role and remains that way.
Banbury Town Council inherited the power to appoint a High Steward from the town’s Charter Trustees who took over civic issues when Banbury Borough Council was abolished under local government reorganisation in 1974.
Councillor Kieron Mallon, leader of Banbury Town Counci, said: “Traditions are important and should be cherished. Much of our history and pageantry is being allowed to fade away but Banbury – a town with a noble past and its own nursery rhyme – will endeavour to maintain its civic customs.
“The post of High Steward should not be allowed to disappear and Sir Tony is the perfect person for the role. He was a tremendous MP for Banbury and supported
the town and its people in many important issues.
In particular his efforts in the campaign to save the Horton Hospital were outstanding.”