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Guild Events 2016
Guild Dinner report and pictures later.
Guild Events 2015

Christmas Tree Festival at St Mary's Stafford

This year the burgesses had two trees at St Mary's Christmas Tree Festival.

Coton Fields Allotments

Christmas Tree

The Mayor and Mayoress presented the certificate to Shirley Griffin and Anne Spurway, who decorated

The Burgesses' Christmas tree, at St Mary's festival.

The Burgesses'

Christmas Tree


Swearing in Court 2015











Guild Summer lunch at Tillington Hall Hotel. (report awaited)
Guild attendance at the Coton Fields Open Day. (report awaited)

Guild Boat Trip from Stone to Aston Marina. (report awaited)

16th May 2015


  The start of the parade. Pictures courtesy of Peter Rogers

Stafford burgesses were well represented at the installation of the new Mayor of Stafford.

At the installation ceremony in the gatehouse theatre, on the  parade and march past, then at the civic reception.

  Passing the saluting base.

More pictures later.

Visit to Caverswall Castle

        Pictures later

Skittles Evening

        Pictures later

Stafford Burgesses were amongst
the sponsors for a visit on March 21st by

Carol Anne Duffy
Poet Laureate and former Stafford resident.

Musical entertainment was by the
George Galway Jazz Quartet

The event was organised by the
Friends of St Mary's Church Stafford.

Click the poster
for details

Pictures Courtesy of Paul Milgate

Stafford Burgesses in the Audience

Carol Anne Duffy

George Galway

The Burgesses Banner by the
1790 John Geib Organ Case.
Another enjoyable Skittles Night at the Cons Club on 13th March 2015
After three rounds of bowling

Reg Harris

with 49 was the overall winner and

Ann Cooper

won the ladies' trophy

with an impressive 38.


For more pictures,
(Courtesy of Ray Spurway),
click here

Our very popular Guild Skittles Night was held on the 13th March 2015. 7-00 for a 7-30 start. Venue was the Constitutional Club in Lloyd St.
Click Here for details and Menu
We had an invitation to a Ceilidh arranged to support the Mayor's Charities. It is on 21st February at the Polish Club, Riverway.
It was decided to leave members to make their own arrangements for this event.
The Guild Annual Dinner was held at the Post House, Stafford on Friday 30th January 2015.
Some 70 Burgesses and their guests, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Stafford, gathered for a very pleasant evening. Good food and good company were followed by some toasts by the Master and the Mayor. A raffle saw the usual strange distribution of prizes and the evening was rounded off by some excellent entertainment by "Ricky", who stepped in at the last minute. Overall, it was another successful event arranged by our Social Secretary Ray Spurway, to whom we express our thanks.
Click here for more pictures
The Annual Meeting of Burgesses, to review the actions of the Trustees, was held on Monday 19th January 2015.

Minutes will appear on this web site when approved by the trustees. Click here for Previous Minutes

Guild Events 2014




Burgesses representatives attended the
Mayor's Charity Ball at the County Showground.

The picture shows some of the guests at the event

This year the Guild participated in the St Mary's Christmas Tree Festival

There was considerable interest in our tree and our organisation by many of the 5,000 + visitors to the event.

The tree showed various items of our regalia together with information about the Burgesses and a copy of the
Charter that King John gave to the burgesses.

The master was rather surprised to be complimented on the tree as engineers are seldom allowed to produce artistic creations!

The tree was kindly sponsored by our Pontycymer Burgess Merlin Maddock, of "Magic Workshop" fame



The Burgesses joined the Mayor and a large number of Stafford folk to walk the perimeter of the town, as it was 400 years ago when the Mayoralty was established,
The Mayor's Sergeant enlightened the company about many historic aspects of the route.

It was an interesting experience, if a little overwhelmed by all the other activities in the town, prior to the switch-on of the Christmas lights.

At various points the walkers encountered Stafford Morris Men dancing to entertain them, accompanied by the Guild Master in another of his roles as the Hobby-Horse, which certainly pre-dates the Mayoralty and probably even the burgesses.



After the Boundary Walk

Another Honour for Merlin.

John Edwards, Master of the Stafford Burgesses, travelled to Pontycymer, near Bridgend, to present Merlin Maddock, MBE, with the Gold Badge of the Stafford Freemen's Guild.

Merlin, was one of Stafford's best known characters in the 50s, 60s and 70s, with his charity work and stunts raising money and support for needy people in the town, often assisted by the late Lord Lichfield.

He went back to his home village to continue harp making and other enterprises, but maintained his interest in our county town. He was sworn in as a Stafford Burgess in 2005 by Mayor Frank Findlay and has been a keen supporter ever since, despite more than his fair share of ill health.

His "Magic Workshop" is an amazing place and his current project is to build a replica of the plane designed by a former resident of Pontycymer in 1904. That challenge saw him on 'The One Show' last year and John was surprised to find an almost complete aircraft squeezed into the workshop. He aims to tow the plane to establish if it would have flown, but says he does not propose to kill himself by trying to fly it down the mountain, as his predecessor could have done!

Merlin's earlier ventures into manpowered flight in Stafford did not meet with great success, but gave everyone a lot of pleasure,

Although he has Parkinson's and mobility problems Merlin remains as upbeat as ever and it was a pleasure to acknowledge his ongoing contribution to Stafford and the Guild.

Pictures - Merlin receiving the badge and certificate from John Edwards and Merlin with the plane scheduled to fly in 2015

Stafford Guild hosted this year's
AGM Weekend for the Freemen of England and Wales
from 19th to 21st September 2014
 at Yarnfield Conference Centre

Click here for a report

The Freemen and their guests outside St Mary's Church, Stafford

If you want to try the quiz that the delegates were given at the FEW AGM click here
For Paul Milgate's pictures of the Sunday morning click here If using them for anything other than personal use please acknowledge the photographer.

For better quality versions contact Paul on

The Guild attended the Annual Battle of Britain Commemoration at St Mary's Church and the War Memorials.

After the Battle of Britain Commemoration 2014

At St Mary's awaiting the Battle of Britain Event

The Christmas Lunch was held on Sunday 14th December 2014 at the Stafford Constitutional Club . It was well attended and a very pleasant occasion.
Particulars were sent to Burgesses who have given us e-mail addresses, or requested postal information, but if you know of anyone who was missed please contact our Social Secretary Ray Spurway, or our Membership Secretary Terry Griffin.
We have attended the Civic Carol Service at St Mary's Church on Sunday 21st December at 6 p.m.
The summer Lunch was another successful event organised by our Social Secretary on 21st July 2014.
There was a Swearing-in Ceremony for new burgesses on Thursday 31st July 2014 in the County Council Chamber, Martin Street, Stafford
Fourteen burgesses were sworn in at this ancient ceremony, (pictures later).

The Guild was well represented at Mayor-making on May 10th 2014. Despite the traditional rain it was a splendid occasion marking 400 years since the installation of Mathew Craddock, the first Mayor of Stafford.

Burgesses attended the return parade of the Mercian Regiment to welcome the troops back Stafford
Another of our popular Skittles nights was held at the Cons Club on 28th February 2014
The Annual Dinner took place at the Post House, Stafford on Friday 31st January 2014

Click here for the Annual Dinner   Pictures here shortly

The Annual Meeting of Trustees and Burgesses took place on 21st January 2014 chaired by the Mayor in line with the Staffordshire Act.
Some 2013 Events
A Court to Swear-in new burgesses took place in the Council Chamber of Staffordshire County Council, Martin Street on December 12th 2013. The Mayor, Councillor Angela Loughran, presided at the historic event, where nine men and nine ladies took the oath of the burgesses to join the ancient company. This was the first occasion that ladies could be admitted under the heredity rules since they were first adopted some 900 years ago.

Candidates awaiting the summons from the Mayor to make the oath before admission as Burgesses of Stafford.

(the Stafford Guild Mace can just be seen making its first appearance at a Court.

The Court in Session.

The Mayor with Burgesses "new and old".

Photos by Ray Spurway and Paul Milgate ( , where prints can be obtained)

              Click here for more pictures. Hopefully, there will be others in due course.

Regrettably our photographer was not permitted to take pictures for reasons we do not understand.

An announcement was made by the Mayor of Stafford at a Borough Council meeting on 24th September 2013 that the Guild had met all the legal requirements and the rules for admission as a Burgess of Stafford had been revised.

The vote was 98% in favour of the changes, which will bring the Stafford Freedom in line with the requirements of
the 21st century rather than the 12th century.

Click here to read the press statement and see the new rules.            For a breakdown of the vote click here.

The Guild was invited to the Civic Carol Service at St Mary's Church, Stafford, at 6.30 p.m. on Sunday 22nd December 2013.
10 Members attended in robes, but as usual it was not possible for all to sit together.
Stafford Radio

The Master was invited by Stafford Radio to talk about the Freemen of Stafford and elsewhere. Presenter Carol Lake, who was recently Sworn in as a Burgess of the Borough of Stafford, presents a show of music and chat with people involved with activities in the town. The discussion covered the origins and the current activities of the burgesses as well as looking at some of the fascinating characters who have been freemen of Stafford. The work of the Freemen of England and Wales (F.E.W.) was discussed, including the fact that Stafford Guild will host their 2014 AGM weekend in September.

Stafford Radio broadcasts, (without adverts), on Sundays on the internet.

A few pictures of the event taken by photographer and Carol's co-presenter Paul Milgate are shown below.

Clockwise from the left:

At the studio in the 200 year old Broad Eye Windmill;

With Carol Lake;

Discussion about Jack Kemp's excellent book about the Stafford freemen since 1100;

In FEW Warden's Robes outside the Mill;

In Stafford Robes outside the radio station.

 Christmas Lunch 2013

The Christmas Lunch at the Constitutional Club took place on15th December 2013.
Some 50 members and guests had an excellent meal and enjoyed good company in a friendly atmosphere. A splendid array of raffle prizes had been donated and it was good to see our President Mr Ely present, as well as some newly appointed burgesses.

There should be pictures here in due course.

Guild Members and Guests who attended the Mayor's Ball in November 2013

The Guild was represented at the Mayor Making ceremony and most braved the elements for the Parade on 11th May 2013.

Some of the Stafford Freemen who attended the 2013 Mayor-making and Remembrance Parades

For some video clips of the event click the links
Guild Members attended the "Save Stafford Hospital March" and were quite noticeable in their robes.
Although the Guild does not get involved in political matters it was felt that any reduction in the status of Stafford and its facilities is a cause of concern.
The Guild wishes to makes it clear that this is entirely separate from condoning any of the appalling errors made at the hospital over the past few years.

The Freemen of Stafford attended and laid a wreath at the Civic Remembrance Ceremony on 11th November.

Sixteen members, most in robes were on parade making it our best turn out for some time.

The AGM of the Stafford Freemen's Guild was be held in the Borough Council Offices at Riverside on 20th November.

The Christmas Lunch was held at the Constitutional Club on Sunday 16th December. Another pleasant social gathering.

The Guild attended the Civic Carol Service at St Mary's on December 16th with robes well in evidence.


The Annual Dinner took place at the Post House, Stafford on Friday 31st January 2014

Click here for the Annual Dinner   Pictures here shortly

Click here for the Skittles Evening.
The Annual Meeting of the Burgesses with the Trustees took place at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday January 23rd,
in the Walton Room of Stafford Borough Council at Riverside, (so that the Mayor could chair the event).

There were 20 burgesses plus the Mayor present and the meeting went well, apart from the intervention of Mr Roe, who once again rambled on about his Freeman status and seemed determined to accuse the Scribe of "hounding him". Actually, the scribe had not spoken to him since last year, when the subject of his status was only raised by him. In court the parties were not allowed to converse, so hounding seems inappropriate. The Mayor declared his comments outside questions on the reports presented and told him to sit down.

Other business was transacted harmoniously with the following Trustees elected.

John Edwards, Roger Harrison, Ken Tillett, Neville Scattergood, , Ray Spurway and Alan Watkins.


Guild Events 2013

A highly successful Christmas Lunch was held at the Cons Club. (details and photos to come)
The AGM of the Guild was held at the Borough Council Offices at 7.45 p.m. on 19th November 2013.

This was preceded at 7.30 p.m. by an EGM to agree some minor constitutional changes. (Click here for details).


The Master and Ray Spurway recently visited Stafford Hospital to present a gold badge and certificate to Derek Glover, who was Guild Secretary for many years.
Derek has not been in the best of health for quite a while, but we were pleasantly surprised how well he looked, given that prospects recently were not looking good. We wish him well with his recovery. In the light of the current highlighting of the improvements at Stafford Hospital, it was again pleasing to hear the very positive comments from Derek about the treatment he has been receiving there.
The social occasions of two Narrow Boat Trips from Stone Marina on August 16th and another on 6th September were pleasant events and helped to bring people with interests in the Guild together. Thanks again to Ray, our social secretary.

Details from: or 01785 256104 or 148 Crab Lane, Stafford, ST16 1SP

The Guild Summer Lunch was held at "The Luck Penny" on Crab Lane on Sunday 30th June at 1 p.m. with some 40 members attending.

It was another pleasant social occasion and the opportunity was taken to present Hughie Shirley with his Gold Badge.

Thanks once again to our Social Secretary, Ray Spurway for making the arrangements. or 01785 256104 or 148 Crab Lane, Stafford, ST16 1SP

The Annual Guild Dinner 2013 took place on 31st January at the Post House in Stafford. Guests of Honour were the Mayor and Mayoress of Stafford, Councillor Brian Cross and Mrs Lilly Cross. Also in attendance were the President of the Freemen of England and Wales, Mr Alan Fallows and Mrs Val Fallows. some thirty Freemen and their guests enjoyed a convivial evening at this pleasant venue.

Click Here for more

pictures of the Dinner courtesy of

Mr Ray Spurway

The Annual Meeting of Burgesses to review the Trust and appoint new trustees was held on Monday 21st January 2013 in the Borough Council Offices.
All freemen are entitled to attend, indeed it is one of the few duties of a freeman.

Four Freemen Trustees were acknowledged for the sterling work they have undertaken over many years.

Retiring Chairman, Derek Luker and retiring Clerk, Ian Pettifor are seen with long term trustees; Mick Nowoskowski and Reg Rowland, together with the Mayor of Stafford, Councillor Brian Cross, who Chaired the meeting.


Guild Events 2012

Stafford Burgesses pose for a picture after the 2012 Remembrance Parade


Members of the Guild, in their robes at St Mary's Church for the Mayor's Service.



The Freemen's Court

Fourteen new burgesses sworn in by Mayor Brian Cross

More pictures here


The Annual Burgesses Meeting to review the activities of the Trustees and appoint new trustees was held on Monday 16th January 2012 under the chairmanship of the mayor of Stafford. Only some 25 burgesses attended or sent apologies, despite some 100 letters being sent. However, the main source of concern, namely the disposal of asbestos sheeting on the allotments site was well aired and he actions of the the trust were accepted by those present.

Minutes of the meeting can be accessed here

After an election, (the first for many years), the current trustees were reinstated.

For information and some pictures of various Guild events click the topics below

The Guild Christmas Lunch was on Sunday 4th December.
Return of the Mercian regiment
The Remembrance Day Parade was on 13th November.
The 2011 Guild AGM was held on Wednesday 16th November.
A Swearing-in Ceremony or Freemen's Court took place on Wednesday 27th July 2011.

There were some changes at the 2010 Guild AGM with Alfred Eley appointed President Elect; John Edwards, Master and Anthony Piddock, Deputy.

Stafford Guild hosted a Court on June 11th 2011 at Church Eaton Village Institute
Stafford Guild hosted the F.E.W. AGM 4th to 6th September 2009.

Report on the 2008 AGM of FEW held at Hale




The CHRISTMAS LUNCH was well attended with over 40 people enjoying good food and good company. Arthur, had things well organised including copies of what people had requested, as lots of us forget. The meal was served quickly and hot and I heard no complaints, which is quite remarkable. It was good to have our president with us as he had not been well and had a hospital visit pending. It was also nice to see a table of this years new burgesses attending and hopefully this will help to breathe new life into the Guild's social programme. We also had a good number of our regulars who we look forward to seeing at these lunches.

The raffle was quite a major event as people had been very generous in providing a good selection of liquid and solid prizes. The Master mentioned that he had visited Merlin Maddock a short while ago and told the assembled company that Merlin was proudly wearing his Stafford Guild regalia whenever possible. He also announced that, as Merlin could not attend the Christmas Lunch, he had donated a nice bottle of whisky for the raffle. Hardly surprising it was the first prize item to be selected. We were particularly grateful to all those multiple winners who said "draw again", so many people went home with some excellent Christmas presents.

Overall this lunch was judged to be a very enjoyable social occasion and a good start to the festive season.


We were invited to attend the Borough's appreciation for the work done by the MERCIAN REGIMENT in Afghanistan. Considerable crowds lined the route and some 15 freemen and friends were in attendance with our flag flying, not dipped amongst the serried ranks of the legion standards, but as we are keen to make clear, we are not a military organisation. We were proud to add our applause and thanks to the lads and lasses of our local regiment, who put their lives on the line in the interests of our country.


The 2011 REMEMBRANCE CEREMONIES took their usual form with a gathering of the invited representatives of the borough. This time, due to the hospital enquiry occupying rooms at Riverside the meeting was at the County Council buildings in Martin Street. The Master and Deputy joined the civic dignitaries while Ray Spurway took our standard to the War Memorial. Regrettably, due to both John and Ant being away for the preceding week and other council members being unavailable, it proved difficult to obtain a wreath as we have done in past years. but we were represented at both memorials and the standard was presented during the church service.

As usual the parade started late, despite the church deciding to cut out a hymn to speed things up. This time we had fourteen burgesses on the march, which is quite good for this event, even though it is a poor representation of the number of freemen in the town. It was gratifying to have a number of the recently sworn burgesses attending to swell our ranks. The reception afterwards was, as usual, a good opportunity to meet influential people and tell them about our organisation. We were surprised an somewhat heartened to have the Lord Lieutenant say he was "pleased to see the Stafford Freemen looking so resplendent in their robes". We are getting there!


The ANNUAL MEETING OF BURGESSES was held at the Gatehouse Theatre on January 17th at 7.30 p.m. It was chaired by the Mayor of Stafford. This meting is the opportunity for Burgesses to hear the reports of the trustees and appoint new trustees to manage their primary asset, the allotment land at Coton Fields.

There was a poor turn out considering the importance of this meeting to the Freemen of the town.


Remembrance Sunday had a poor turn out from the Guild as many of the regulars were away or unwell. However, the flag was paraded and a wreath laid on behalf of the Freemen.

Funeral Malcolm Wooley

Mayor Making parade

Sunday Lunches held in April, July and September.

Deputy Master appointed FEW Warden for North Midlands


Wreath laid and participation in Remembrance parade

The FEW AGM was held at Stafford in September. (details elsewhere)

Freeman's Court

The above Notice appeared in the Staffordshire Newsletter.

Potential Burgesses must contact the Borough Council, not the Guild, but we hope to interest new Freemen in our organisation after their swearing-in.


Report Pending


This year there were several social gatherings:

The Annual Dinner when we were joined by the Mayor and Mayoress, but sadly not by the Master, who was taken ill on the plane bringing him home in time for the dinner. We are happy to say that his problems were quickly resolved and he is now full recovered. He did however miss the excellent meal the pleasant company and the enjoyable disco music which brought the event to a close.

A visit to the waste incinerator plant at Stoke was very interesting and enlightening for the small number of seven freemen who attended. The only question on everybody's lips at the end was "Why are there not more of these plants around the country?"

The attendance at the Remembrance service and parade was very good with some 14 participants marching behind the freemen's banner, which was also presented in church for the first time. It was also the first occasion when we laid a wreath at the Borough war memorial.

After the ceremonies the Banner was returned to its new home, namely its specially made case in the Walton room of the Borough Council.

Two quiz evenings taxed the brains of the participants under quizmaster Derek's strict judgements.

A Barbecue at the Deputy Master's house was well attended and much enjoyed by all. Good food, good company and good weather (apart from the rain that is!).

The Guild Council met regularly to organise the events and we were represented at the Mayoral Parade, the battle of Britain service and at the Annual general Meeting of the Freemen of England and Wales.

It is hoped that a swearing in ceremony will take place soon to admit more qualified people to the ranks of Burgesses and maybe welcome them to the Guild.

We are also looking at robes, which will bring us in line with other guilds and hopefully help to raise our profile, both in the Borough and Nationally.


Royal Visit 31st March

A representative group of guild members were privileged to be able to see Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at close quarters during their encounter with a number of borough organisations in St Mary's Garden of Remembrance. We were very fortunate that both the Queen and the Duke came to talk to us.

While one group explained to Her Majesty who we were and Merlin wished her well for her forthcoming birthday the conversation between the Duke and the Deputy Master went something like this:

D     "Who have we here then?"

DM   " King John granted the Stafford charter to the Burgesses -"

D     " - and you are the Burgesses?"

DM   "We are the current burgesses."

D     "So you are not the originals then?"

DM   "No, even though we may look 800 years old !"

The Duke observed the contingent's beards, so Merlin explained that we had entered a Santa Claus contest and the DM won.
(Apparently Ant Piddock came second and he came third.)

Graham, Ian, Ant, Merlin, Fred, Terry and John represented the guild.

It was not considered good form to ask her majesty to pose with the group.



Things are progressing well with the regeneration of the Coton Fields Freemen's Allotments and the site is at last looking cared for.

The new Committees for the Guild and the Trustees are hard at work dealing with administrative and social activities.


was held on

Wednesday 6th April.

as per the notice below

Details of the event are given elsewhere on this site.

Following the court 15 of the 21 new burgesses were admitted to the Freemen's Guild.

Some also expected to exercise their right to cultivate an allotment on the Coton Fields site in due course.

Following the court Jack Kemp sold signed copies of his book and kindly donated the proceeds to the Guild.

Jack Kemp is shown here presenting Merlin Maddock with his copy of

"The Freemen of Stafford Borough 1100 to 1997"

At the April Guild Council meeting, it was agreed that the Guild should participate in the celebrations of May 2006,
when the 800th anniversary of the Charter would be commemorated by the Borough.

Our heritage secretary had to clarify the date, as the local paper had given the impression that the event was to be held this year.

Clearly this was a misunderstanding and we now have sufficient time to prepare our part in the event.

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