Civic office

Information about what the civic office does, coat of arms, booking the guildhall, what freemen are and how to become one, what pasture freemen and masters are and does the council fly the union flag.

What does the Civic Office do?

The Civic Office provides administrative support to the Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, coordinates their civic diary as well as giving advice on protocol and civic procedures. The office also organises civic and ceremonial events such as remembrance services, freedom parades, freemen of Beverley admission ceremonies, ministerial visits, civic receptions and dinners, the opening of council buildings and launches council initiatives.

How can I contact the Civic Office?

You can contact the Civic Office by the following means:

In writing:

Civic Office
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
County Hall
Cross Street
HU17 9BA.

By email:

Tel: (01482) 393260

Does the council have a coat of arms and can I use it to promote my organisation?

East Riding of Yorkshire Council's coat of arms was commissioned from the College of Arms and designed by Robert Noel, Bluemantle Pursuivant. The coat of arms, which bears the motto 'Tradition and Progress', was formally adopted by the council in 1996 and they have become a familiar symbol throughout the East Riding of Yorkshire.

A full explanation of the coat of arms can be viewed below:

Coat of arms (pdf 51kb)

It is not possible for outside organisations and business to use the coat of arms to promote their services, as it specifically relates to East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Can I book the Guildhall for my event?

The Guildhall is not available for public hire.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has set the Guildhall aside for use as the non-political office of the Chairman of the council. The Guildhall is used for civic and ceremonial occasions such as the Beverley pasture master elections, freemen of Beverley admission ceremonies, civic receptions and dinners.

What are freemen of Beverley?

Prior to 2010, only sons of freemen could be admitted as a freeman of Beverley. They must have been born in Beverley and must have been at least 21 years of age. In addition, their father had to have been a freeman when the son was born. There was also the possibility of admission as a freeman by servitude (apprenticeship). The rules around servitude have remained unchanged.

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 came into force on 12th January 2010 which means that daughters of freemen may now be admitted even if they were not born in Beverley. It also allows those sons of freemen, who did not previously qualify due to the strict criteria, to continue the family tradition and become freemen.

How do I become a freeman of Beverley?

If one of your parents has been admitted as a freeman of Beverley then, upon attaining the age of 21 years, you are entitled to be admitted irrespective of where you were born or live.

A copy of your birth certificate, showing the name of the parent from whom you are claiming your birthright, should be sent to the civic office together with a letter outlining your intention or complete the Freeman application form online.

Ceremonies to admit freemen of Beverley are held annually at the Guildhall, Beverley in the presence of the Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Chief Executive of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the Town Mayor of Beverley.

Once appointed, the name of the new freeman is entered onto the Beverley freemen's list which is maintained by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

What is a pasture freeman?

A pasture freeman is a freeman of Beverley who resides within the town/parish boundaries of Beverley, Molescroft and Woodmansey.

If they should subsequently move outside of the said boundaries, their name is deleted from the roll of pasture freemen and they may be re-installed if they should return to take up residence within the said boundaries.

Pasture freemen are permitted to stock the common pastures of Westwood, Swinemoor and Figham.

Pasture Freemen who do not wish to stock the pastures are known as non-stockers and they receive monetary benefits in lieu.

The roll of pasture freemen is maintained by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

What is a pasture master?

An act of Parliament passed in 1836 placed the management of the common pasture surrounding the town of Beverley, namely Westwood, Swinemoor and Figham, in the body of 12 pasture masters elected annually from among the pasture freemen.

The pasture masters elections are held on 1st March each year, unless it falls on a Sunday when the election will take place on the Monday, at the Guildhall, Beverley and, on behalf of the Chairman of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, is presided over by the Town Mayor of Beverley. The election may be terminated by the Town Mayor if a period exceeding 20 minutes elapses between votes. Two auditors are also elected from among the pasture freemen.

Each year, the elected pasture masters assess the grazing possibilities of each pasture and allocate the number of livestock allowed on each. The allocation is known as 'gaits', a cow and a horse being one gait each with three sheep to one gait.

The pasture masters advertise in the press the availability of gaits and allocate on the replies received. The pasture freemen or their widows receive priority when the pasture masters are allocating gaits with the remaining gaits let to whoever applies. Stocking the pastures is usually from mid-April to mid-December each year.

If there is a surplus of revenue over the expenditure at the year-end, a part is retained for emergencies and the remainder is distributed in October to non-stocking freemen or their widows.

When a pasture freeman dies, their widow is entitled to have their name entered on the widows’ roll. They are entitled to stock the pastures in the same way as a pasture freeman, but they are not eligible to vote in the election of pasture masters.

How do I contact the Beverley Pasture Masters?

If you have concerns regarding livestock on the Westwood, Swinemoor or Figham pastures, please contact the following:

Livestock on the Westwood

Zowie Bell, the Neatherd:

Mobile no: 07803 469254 or contact the Westwood Gatehouse (01482) 869474.

Livestock on Swinemoor or Figham

John Chapman, the Neatherd

Mobile no: 07936 178113 or contact the Swinemoor Gatehouse (01482) 869476.

General enquiries

For general enquiries about the Beverley Pasture Masters please contact:

Maxine Taylor, Clerk to the Pasture Masters, tel. (01482) 888201

Allan English, Chairman of the Pasture Masters, tel. (01482) 866981.

Does the council fly the union flag?

The council flies the union flag on the designated fixed flag flying days as set out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Dates for hoisting flags (external website)

The union flag may be flown on UK government buildings all year round. Those wishing to fly the union flag on the designated fixed flag flying days should only fly it from 8am until sunset. Individuals, local authorities and other organisations may fly the union flag whenever they wish, subject to compliance with any local planning requirements.

The occasions on which the union flag is to be flown at half-mast are:

  • from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign until the funeral
  • in the following cases, half mastings will be by special command from Her Majesty:
    • the death of a member or near relative of the royal family or the funeral of members of the royal family
    • the funerals of foreign rulers
    • the funerals of Prime Ministers and ex-Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom
    • the funerals of First Ministers and ex-First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (unless otherwise commanded by the Sovereign, this only applies to flags in their respective countries); and
    • any other occasions as commanded.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will inform departments of any other occasions when Her Majesty has given a special command.

Further information from flying flags can be viewed by visiting the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.

Flag Flying (external website)

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