A HISTORIC institution that has held responsibility for safeguarding the environment and wildlife in the Forest for centuries is searching for a new Steward for the first time in 40 years.

The Court of His Majesty’s Verderers of the Forest of Dean last week announced the retirement of Kieron Griffin, who has held the position of Steward since 1984.

The Verderers are now on the lookout for Mr Griffin’s replacement, describing the vacancy as “a rare opportunity to become part of this unique historic Court”.

Having served as locum Steward since 1984, solicitor Kieron Griffin was appointed to the office of Steward to the ancient court of Her Majesty’s Verderers of the Forest of Dean by the Minister of Agriculture in 1987.

The Verderers’ Court has now served the Forest for over eight hundred years.

In Norman and later times, Verderers were part of the legal system that administered the royal forests.

Under ‘forest law’ their role was the protection of the “vert” - the woodlands and open lands - and venison of the Statutory Forest and the prosecution of offenders in their own Court.

The legal powers of the Verderers were replaced at the end of the 19th Century by Magistrates and other courts.

Today, their significant concern is with the environment, wildlife and conservation and they keep an eye on issues relating to the Statutory Forest including character and traditions.

History was made in 2022 when Sue Middleton became the first ever woman to be elected as a Verderer in the Forest of Dean.

There are always four verderers and the role is for life.

The role of the Steward is to administer and record the quarterly Court sittings at Speech House and to provide guidance when needed.

The current Verderers wish to record thanks and appreciation to their retiring Steward, Kieron Griffin, for his work, legal advice and his voluntary service to the Forest of Dean over the last forty years.

For more details about the vacant Steward position, contact [email protected].

More information about the verderers can be found at www.coaley.net/fod.