Time to Explore Northumberland & the Scottish Borders Derek Sharman MBE. Tour Guide since 1988 Tel: 01289 330218 - Email: timetoexplore@btinternet.com
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Visit of King James VI/1 -  5th & 6th April 2003

The Arrival of King James - 6th April

A contemporary account of the King’s visit in April 1603 provided the basis for the programme of events.

King James was escorted the 3 miles from The Border into the town by a cavalcade of riders including the Chief Marshall of Berwick, the principals of the Scottish Borders Common Ridings and a troop of cavalry in 17th century uniforms.

A t the site of the old town gates in Castlegate, there was a re-enactment of the knighting by King James of William Selby, Gentleman Porter of Berwick.

The streets were lined by pikemen and musketeers, and musicians of The York Waits greeted the procession with fanfares from the Scotsgate.

The Mayor of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Councillor Liz Breckons welcomed King James from the steps of the Town Hall.

The garrison of the town then marched past, together with costumed young people carrying banners representing all the parishes within the Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The Garrison of Berwick in 1603 Recreated

Some 500 members of the English Civil War Society from all over England and Scotland represented the garrison and people of Berwick in 1603.

The re-enactors set up period-style encampments around the Elizabethan ramparts and staged demonstrations of crafts and weapons drill.  A  battery of artillery on Brass Bastion fired volleys at times during the weekend.

Up King James's Visit Halidon Hll Arts & Crafts Events Tobacco King James Sports Sports Events Hamlet Norham Castle Themed Galas

At the end of March 1603, following the death of Elizabeth I, her cousin James VI of Scotland set off from Edinburgh to journey to London where he was to be crowned as James I of England.

On 6th April 1603, King  James arrived in Berwick-upon-Tweed, his first stop in England.  The events that were recorded as taking place during his stay were staged in the town on the exact 400th anniversary of the King’s visit.

Beacon-Lighting and Tree-Planting Ceremonies

The arrival of King James at Berwick was announced on the previous evening (5th April) with the lighting of a beacon on Windmill Bastion.

The recreation of King James’ arrival on 6th April began at the Border, beside the ruins of Lamberton Kirk, where the Lords-Lieutenant of Berwickshire and Northumberland planted a commemorative oak tree.

Entertainement at The Barracks

King James was greeted at the Barracks by Sir John Carey, Governor of Berwick, before being entertained by performers from “Past Pleasures” and 17th century musicians “Hautbois”.

The event at the Barracks was staged by courtesy of and sponsored by English Heritage..

King James Reviews the Garrison

During the afternoon of 6th April, King James inspected the garrison of the town on the Stanks, in the shadow of the Elizabethan ramparts.

Following the review of the troops it was recorded that “…to show instance how much he loved and respected the art military, he made a shot himself out of a cannon.”

King James Departs from Berwick

The York Waits led the King’s procession out of the town, across The Old Bridge into Tweedmouth, where he knighted Ralph Gray, “a gentleman of great command and possession near the Border”.

Bygone Borderlands - 5th & 6th April

An exhibition and programme of talks on a wide variety of historical topics was staged in the Guildhall during the weekend by 15 local and family history societies from both sides of The Border, co-ordinated by Linda Banker, the Archivist at Berwick Record Office.