Duke of Buccleuch appointed as High Steward of Westminster Abbey

The Dean and Chapter is delighted to announce the appointment of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry as High Steward of Westminster Abbey. He will take up the appointment in October 2016 when Lord Luce retires after five years' service in the role on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

The office of High Steward has its origins in the 16th century, following the dissolution of the monastery in 1540. After the later dissolution of the Marian monastery, the office was revived in 1561 and held in succession by private secretaries of the Monarch, William Cecil and Robert Cecil, over a long period. The High Steward had a significant role until the establishment of modern local government in Westminster a little over a hundred years ago in maintaining the local highways, byways and bridges, on behalf of the Dean and Chapter, as instructed in Queen Elizabeth I's Charter of 1560.The High Steward, the most senior honorary appointment of the Dean and Chapter, acts principally as an external adviser to the Dean and Chapter and is present at many of the most important services held in the Abbey.

This is not the first time a Duke of Buccleuch has served as High Steward. The fifth Duke was High Steward from 1842 to 1884.

The Dean of Westminster said, 'Both Lord Hurd of Westwell and Lord Luce through their terms of office as High Steward during my service as Dean have been wonderful and wise advisers and counsellors to the Dean and Chapter. In the past few years, following changes in 2009, the High Steward has had a key role in chairing a panel advising the Crown over appointments of members of Chapter at the Abbey. I am delighted that the Duke of Buccleuch has accepted the invitation to take on this significant role and am very confident that he will both enjoy the connection with the Abbey and play an important part in preserving and upholding its role in the nation and Commonwealth and more widely.'

The Duke of Buccleuch said of his appointment, 'It is a great honour to be asked to succeed Lord Luce as High Steward. Westminster Abbey stands at the heart of our national life and I feel deeply privileged to be able to join the Dean and the Abbey community in helping to uphold for the future its unique place and traditions.'

Lord Luce, the outgoing High Steward, has commented, 'I am delighted that the Duke of Buccleuch has been appointed as High Steward of Westminster Abbey on my retirement in October this year. It has been a great joy to me, as well as an immense privilege, to take on an office which goes back historically to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The Duke will bring valuable experience to this role, as well as a long-standing family link through his ancestor, the fifth Duke.'

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