Freeman of the City of Kingston upon Hull

Cn6PMCHUEAAAi4eYesterday, I and my colleague Lord Parekh were installed as Honorary Freemen of the City of Kingston upon Hull.  It was a remarkable honour in its own right, made all the more so by the fact that very few people have been accorded the freedom of the city.  Those that have been include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and, earlier last century, Thomas Ferens (the subject of my Founder’s Day Lecture last year).  The award recognised the link between university and city and the fact that Lord Parekh and I have between us almost eighty years of service to the university.

My appointment was proposed and seconded by former students of mine and the citation was extremely generous, noting that the freedom was conferred ‘in appreciation of the eminent and valuable service rendered by him to the City in the fields of constitutional affairs and the British constitution, and in recognition of the high esteem in which he is held across the political spectrum as one of the United Kingdom’s foremost constitutional experts, enhancing the prestige of our University in Parliament and encouraging generations of his students in a deep appreciation and understanding of the political arts, to the great advantage of Kingston upon Hull.’

The ceremony itself was impressive occasion.

As to the question I have been most asked,  no, I have not acquired the right to herd my sheep through the city.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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16 Responses to Freeman of the City of Kingston upon Hull

  1. Mark Shephard says:

    Congratulations. Well-deserved.

  2. seanjm72 says:

    Herding sheep is not as easy at it looks , you may not be missing out …did you get a big key though ?

    • Lord Norton says:

      I did not get a key, but a scroll in a very nice brass casing on a wooden and engraved stand.

    • Croft says:

      Herding sheep is not too bad (if I say so myself) cats on the other hand….

      PS – I always wondered what (if any) other occasions peers dusted down their parliamentary robes for.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Croft: The Council rubric stipulated ‘robes will be worn’ and that was interpreted as peers’ robes for the two of us. I did check with the Clerk of the Parliaments that this would be in order. The only problems it created for me was, first, bringing my robes from London to Hull and, second, the realisation I would be wearing rather heavy robes on a very hot day! In the event, it was not as hot in the robes as I was anticipating.

      • Croft says:

        I note on that they say:

        “It is extremely rare for parliamentary robes to be worn outside the Palace of Westminster. It only occurred twice during the 20th century. Both occasions were the investiture of a new Prince of Wales, in 1911 and 1969.”

        So perhaps they have missed this type of usage – of perhaps they were only thinking of state occasions.

        Did the CotP mention in passing any other times they had been used? It seems a shame in many respects that they aren’t used more – considering the expense.

  3. “no, I have not acquired the right to herd my sheep through the city.”
    Does that mean you own sheep already or are you referring to your students ;>)
    Congrats well deserved.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Many thanks. I should have clarified that it was hypothetical. If I did own sheep, I would not be able to herd them through the city. Some councillors did take the view that if I did have sheep they would be happy for me to use them to graze on grassland where, given budget cuts, they could no afford to cut the grass.

  4. maude elwes says:

    LN: They, at Hull, know they were and are very fortunate to have you looking after them and now they have shown such a good way to give you a special thank you. It must have been a lot of fun in that fab room. You look great in red.

    Sheep can be a bit of a nuisance, so you’re better off without them anyway. That is, even if you could use the privilege this honour gives you. Enjoy it, you have surely earned it.

    • Lord Norton says:

      maude elwes: Many thanks. Much appreciated. It was a lovely ceremony. Even if I was empowered to herd sheep, I think I would forego acquiring any sheep for the purpose!

  5. Congratulations Lord Norton on another well deserved accolade. If you live as long as I expect you too and those who admire you decide on an exhaustive epitaph then I think Hull shall give the Taj Mahal a run for its money before all things are completed…
    But I have a feeling that this must have some special sentimental value although perhaps a Lord from the part of England you come from would find it a bit too revealing to belabor the point. There is no honor like an old and rare one from those institutions near to one’s center of life — or so it seems to me.

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: Many thanks. Much appreciated. Being made a Freeman is indeed an ancient honour (though in its present form derives from an Act of the 19th Century sponsored, appropriately enough, by the Kingston upon Hull Council), though nowadays it is an honour rather than embodying the rights apparent at the time of Magna Carta.

      • Yes honour of course, Magna Carta or not. Very interesting in a mind with a twisted legal imagination all the ramifications — but none are relevant or intended and your country keeps such things under a tight leash I believe…

  6. tizres says:

    A little late, but I, too, congratulate you; a deserved acknowledgement of your value to the community. Congratulations should also go to whoever managed to condense your contributions in so few words; quite a feat.

    It may be a false memory but I thought freemen were excused from paying council tax. Somehow, I don’t think you’ll bother chasing that one up!

  7. Tony Sands says:

    Congratulations on well-deserved recognition for all you have done for Hull and its students of Politics (both very recent and somewhat older). You deserved the applause on Graduation Day too after the Chancellor’s remarks. Sadly I was too far away to get anything better than a blurred photograph or I might have submitted a rogue caption competition suggestion. Have a good Summer!

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