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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 August, 2004, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Jesters joust for historic role
Kester the Jester is a joker who's not wild
Seven people pitted their wit when they applied for the post of State Jester - for the first time in more than 350 years.

English Heritage advertised the post, last held in the court of King Charles I in 1649.

Applicants auditioned before a judging panel at a history festival at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire on Saturday.

The winner, Kester the Jester, will perform at English Heritage events around the country next summer.

'Best in the land'

Kester - real name Nigel Roder from Milton Keynes - is a professional juggler. He says he is looking forward to his new role.

"Now I know I'm the best in the land it's great," he said.

Tracy Borman, from English Heritage, said Kester fitted the role well and they were looking forward to using him to represent them at events.

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.

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

However, 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.

Jester wanted, must be mirthful
05 Aug 04  |  England


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