Fancy being ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of your own kingdom? Turns out you don’t always have to be born to a royal family to realize this dream, as a council has opened applications to become ‘king’ and landlord of a tiny island off the coast of Cumbria.
Centuries’ old tradition
Applications are invited from people who are interested in managing the Ship Inn and the tiny island of Piel on which it sits.
The island, which is one of England’s most remote watering holes, is currently being run under a temporary partnership when the inn opened in July when restrictions were relaxed.
However, this arrangement will end in January, thus the need for a permanent landlord with ‘sound local knowledge’ to take over.
This tradition ‘handing over’ the island to the Ship Inn’s landlord started about three centuries ago. The designated landlord is crowned ‘King of Piel’ at a ceremony where they’re seated on an ancient chair, made to wear a helmet while holding a sword. Locals then pour alcohol over their head.
Vice-chair of the Barrow Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Frank Cassidy said:
It's important the right people are installed, people with sound local knowledge, a feel for the island and its history.
Future of the island
The committee met last week to discuss the island’s future—off the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula.
But the job may not be as regal as one might think. Sandra Baines, head of visitor economy and culture at the council, said it was:
very much about preserving its beauty, its natural habitat. (and) not the dream people might think it is.
Chris Jones, the council's head of programme management and climate change, said:
There are significant constraints to living and working on Piel Island and people need to think about that.
The future of the 50-acre island Piel Island will next be considered by the borough council's executive committee in January.