December 8 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Dignitaries from Colchester gathered in Mersea yesterday to mark the start of the oyster fishery season.
The traditional gin and gingerbread opening ceremony, which stretches back to 1540, took place at Cudmore Grove County Park, East Mersea, and was attended by about 40 councillors from Colchester Borough Council, whose ownership of the fishery dates back to a charter signed in 1189.
Town serjeant Michael Kirby, Colchester mayor Colin Sykes and council chief executive Adrian Pritchard dressed up in historic regalia and were joined by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell as they tasted the oysters.
Mr Pritchard read out a proclamation to officially declare the fishery open and was followed by the mayor and mayoress Laura Sykes – the mayor’s wife – who raised a toast to the Queen, accompanied by drinking gin and eating gingerbread.
As part of the tradition, a letter is sent to the Queen at Buckingham Palace stating: “According to ancient Custom and Charter dating back to Norman times, the mayor and councillors of the Colchester Borough Council will formally proclaim the opening of the Colne Oyster Fishery for the coming season and will drink to Your Majesty’s long life and health and request respectfully to offer to Your Majesty their expressions of dutiful loyalty and devotion.”
The Queen usually returns her thanks to the mayor and councillors for their good wishes.