These legal service used to be held specifically at the beginning of the legal year, or at least one of the legal terms during the year. This group of services has been held at or near the beginning of the Michaelmas legal term. The Worcestershire service is the last in this group that we attended. This County is very much connected with Herefordshire in this context because from 1973 to 2005, the two counties shred a High Sheriff, in parallel (almost) with the combining of the Shire Councils. Since Worcestershire has a much higher population than Herefordshire, it has institutions that Herefordshire does not, such as prisons. It also shares a Police Force along with Shropshire(West Mercia) and a Fire and Rescue service (Hereford and Worcester). We are both part of the West Midland Judicial circuit. Our Magistrates can also find themselves sitting in either County.
In short the two Counties are close in spirit as well as geography. Therefore, their legal service is of particular significance.
The Service was held in Worcester Cathedral, a Gothic wonder in contrast to Hereford’s Romanesque beauty. Compare Worcester and Hereford. In a reflective moment, I remembered that King John is buried there, he who had that difficulty with his Barons that produced the first Magna Carta, many of whose clauses attempted to cut back the power of the Sheriffs. The first version was not a success but it subsequently became an important foundation of the law in many countries.
Again, we had a fine procession, some magnificent music and a commanding sermon from the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, bringing an ecumenical flavour to the service.