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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Jester wanted, must be mirthful
English Heritage is looking for a clown
The modern jester's salary is to be negotiated
England is looking for a state jester for the first time in more than 350 years.

English Heritage has advertised in a national newspaper for the post, last held in the court of King Charles I in 1649.

Applicants will be asked to audition before an audience at a history festival in Warwickshire.

The one with the best routine will be required to perform at English Heritage events around the country next summer.

The winner will be decided by a panel of judges, based on who is the crowd favourite.

The post of jester was abolished by Oliver Cromwell as part of the purges that followed the Civil War and was not reinstated after the Restoration.

But an advertisement on the English Heritage website and in Thursday's Times newspaper is set to change all that.

Weekend work

The first part of the ad reads: "Jester wanted. Must be mirthful and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005."

It says applicants must have their own outfits, including bells, although a "bladder on a stick" can be provided "if necessary".

The ad says the salary for the job is negotiable.

English Heritage said jesters performed at feasts and generally provided a distraction for the monarch from weighty state affairs.

Tracy Borman, events director at English Heritage, said the modern office holder need merely to have a knack at feigning madness for the amusement of others.

"It is about time we had a jester again. This will be the first jester to be employed by the state for hundreds of years... there is no reason not to bring it back now."

The National Guild of Jesters said there was too little notice for professionals to be able to apply.

"It's a gimmick. It's getting people for cheap," Jonathan the jester, guild member and the official jester for the city of Salisbury, told the BBC's Today programme.

Dr Borman said the advert was aimed at someone "willing to rise to the challenge at very short notice and improvise".

Auditions will be held on 7 August at the Festival of History in Stoneleigh Park, in Warwickshire.


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