Keeping the tradition of honouring local tradesmen alive

Mayor of Colchester Councillor Peter Chillingworth. Picture: Colchester Borough Council

Mayor of Colchester Councillor Peter Chillingworth. Picture: Colchester Borough Council - Credit: Archant

The mayor of Colchester is appealing to the borough’s tradespeople to step forward to keep one of the town’s unique business traditions alive.

Colchester residents are invited to apply for the ceremonial title of ‘Freeburgess’ in the town tradition dating back to the 1189 Royal Charter of Richard the Lionheart.

Successful applicants need to either have been apprenticed for seven years to a member of the Guild of Master Craftsman who also holds the title, or have a parent or grandparent with Freeburgess status.

More than 400 Master Craftsman trades and crafts qualify for the title – from traditional occupations, such as cabinet makers, tree surgeons and coffin makers, to modern skills including aluminium fabrication and asbestos removal.

While 10 people applied to hold the title in 2016, the number had declined to just six Freeburgess tradesmen last year.

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The Mayor of Colchester, Councillor Peter Chillingworth, said: “While Freeburgess status is now simply a ceremonial honour, its continued existence plays an important part in keeping our long history and heritage alive.

“Awarding Freeburgess status is just one of the ways we can continue to celebrate Colchester’s rich history, which helps keep our local traditions and heritage alive for future generations.

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“With so many crafts and professions eligible I would urge everyone who qualifies, either through parentage or master craftsmanship, to apply and help continue this ancient tradition which stretches back over 800 years.

“I very much look forward to meeting the Colchester residents and awarding their Freeburgess status at the ceremony.”

Residents have until September 12 to apply for the title at

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