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Cinque Ports remember great lady

A large crowd watched the procession through the town. Picture: MATT McARDLE

A large crowd watched the procession through the town. Picture: MATT McARDLE

SUN streaming through the stained glass window of the Lady Chapel of St Mary's Church, Dover, played on the gold and silver maces symbolising the Confederation of Cinque Ports.

A special table had been set up to support the 18 maces which had earlier been carried shoulder high through Dover for a service commemorating the Lord Warden, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The procession from the Town Hall to the church by the Mayors of Dover, Deal, Sandwich, Folkestone, Hythe, Ramsgate, Margate, Tenterden, Lydd, New Romney, Faversham, Hastings, Rye and Winchelsea, had tourists and townsfolk in awe of the pageantry and tradition.

Other dignitaries included Brigadier Maurice Atherton now vice Lord Lieutenant, the former Deputy Constable of Dover Castle, his successor, Brigadier David Santa-Olalla, the High Sheriff of Kent, Charles Dawes, Cllr Wendy Hansell, Dover District Council Chairman and other officials.

They were led into the church, decorated by Church Warden Jean Hoynes and her team with lilies, carnations and chrysanthemums in pink and white, by Naval Cadets Mat(crct) Simpson of T.S. Invicta and Holly Banks, T.S. Lynx, both 16, their boots striking the centuries-old stone in rhythmic percussion as they carried the silver oar.

The Right Rev Richard Third, Chaplain to the Lord Warden gave the address, speaking of the Queen Mother's determination to form a real personal link with Confederation.

Over the past 23 years the Lord Warden tirelessly made herself available to the people of the Cinque Ports, paying innumerable visits and becoming a friend to thousands who met her only once" he said.

"Yet they carried away with them an abiding memory of a gracious lady who showed her interest in them as persons."

Bishop Richard added: "The Lord Warden also brought Walmer Castle to life. Before she took office it had been no more than an ancient monument under the care of English Heritage but Queen Elizabeth decided it would be a living home."

She sometimes referred to her annual visit, he said, as her: "picnic weekend" - but it was picnic which required considerable organisation including the shipment of a dining table.

Bishop Richard also revealed that he had attempted to retire as Chaplain when he left his position as Bishop of Dover - but the Queen Mother, by then 92, refused to hear of him going.

"The truth is that the Queen Elizabeth did not admit that there was such a thing as an age at which it was appropriate to retire."

The Lessons were read by The Speaker of the Confederation, Hythe Mayor Cllr Malcolm Dearden, and Cllr Diane Smallwood, Mayor of Dover, with the concluding prayer by the Speaker's Chaplain, the Rev Desmond Sampson.

The choir from St Mary's Church and Dover College were led by Stephen Yarrow, music director of St Mary's, who sang at the installation of the Queen Mother as Lord Warden in 1979, and Rod Spencer, Director of Music at Dover College, who sang at the Queen's Coronation in 1953.

The service was conducted by the Rev David Ridley, Vicar of St Mary's, and there were a number of local clergy in attendance, including Father John Ryan of St Paul's Roman Catholic Church. The Courts of Brotherhood and Guestling, which last met in 1989, then convened at Maison Dieu.

Robed, chain, be-wigged and gowned, the delegates then took part in proceedings which have their origins in ancient history in a setting which is centuries older still.

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