THE Queen will come to Blackburn in April to distribute her historic ‘Maundy Money’ at the Cathedral.
It will be Her Majesty’s first visit to the town since May 2006.
The trip will also see her first visit to the town’s premier place of Christian worship as it embarks on building the first Cathedral cloister, garden and clergy court since the Middle Ages.
Along with the Duke of Edinburgh, she will attend a special service on April 17 to give small gifts or ‘alms’ of special coins and money to 88 male and 88 female pensioners, one for each year of her age.
Watch footage from the 2011 service at Westminster Abbey:
The ceremony commemorates Jesus Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples the day before the Crucifixion.
Attended by the Yeomen of the Guard, ‘Beefeaters’, from the Tower of London and the choir of the Chapel Royal at Windsor Castle, the tradition first dates from King John in 1213.
Once usually held in London, The Queen now insists on travelling to major Churches and Cathedrals round Britain to distribute the historic gifts.
It will be the first time she has been in Blackburn Cathedral.
She considers the distribution of the money to Christian pensioners as an important part of her role as head of the Church of England.
The occasion is seen as a Royal Seal of approval for the new additions as part of the Cathedral Quarter development which is key to the regeneration of the town centre.
Her Majesty’s last visit to Blackburn came on May 25 2006 as part of her 80th Birthday tour of the United Kingdom.
She enjoyed a special five-course lunch at the Inn at Whitewell in the Ribble Valley, reputed to be her favourite part of the country.
(Click on the photographs, right, of the Queen's previous visits to East Lancashire)
The Dean of Blackburn Christopher Armstrong said: “I am delighted that the Cathedral has been asked to host The Queen for the Maundy Service this year.
“This is a huge privilege as well as a great responsibility on behalf of the bishop, the Diocese and the County of Lancashire.
“Maundy Thursday is an important part of any Christian’s preparation for Easter and I am aware that The Queen conducts her Maundy responsibilities with great devotion.
“I am sure that the visit will be a wonderful experience for all involved.”
The new Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson said: “It will be wonderful in my first year in the diocese to be able to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to the Cathedral.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said: “This promises to be a special event for Blackburn Cathedral, the town and the whole of Lancashire.
"The focus is on rewarding people who have given something back to their community which is something very close to my heart. I’m really pleased they are getting the national recognition they deserve.”
In May 2012, she visited Burnley with the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour.
The Buckingham Palace website said this morning: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be present at the Maundy Service in Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire. Her Majesty will distribute the Royal Maundy during the Service.”
THE MONARCH distributing ‘Maundy Money’ is a tradition dating from medieval times.
Now the Queen gives special coins to men and women, one of each for every year of her age, at a Church of England Cathedral in memory of Jesus Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples before the Crucifixion.
It takes place on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday which celebrates his death on The Cross.
Elizabeth II considers it an important part of her devotional life and it is the only occasion on which the Queen visits others to make awards; usually recipients of honours come to her.
At the service, she ceremonially distributes small silver coins known as "The Queen’s Maundy Money" as symbolic gifts to elderly recipients.
The coins are legal tender but do not circulate because of their silver content and numismatic value. A small sum of ordinary money is also given in lieu of gifts of clothing and food that the sovereign once bestowed on Maundy recipients.
The first English monarch to be recorded as giving gifts of small silver coins to the poor is John who in 1213 gave 13 pence to each of 13 poor men at a ceremony in Rochester.
In the Middle Ages, English monarchs washed the feet of beggars in imitation of Jesus, and presented gifts and money to the poor.
The current tradition began in 1699 when the monarch did not attend the service, sending an official in his place. The custom of washing the feet did not survive the 18th century.
In 1931 Princess Marie Louise was at Royal Maundy, and afterwards suggested that her cousin, King George V, make the distributions the following year, which he did, beginning a new royal custom.
Traditionally, the service was held in or near London, in most years in the early 20th century at Westminster Abbey. Today, Queen Elizabeth II almost always attends, she has been absent only four times in her reign, and the service is held in a different church (usually a cathedral) every year.
The service "has become the occasion of a royal pilgrimage to different parts of the country". The Queen has directed that the service not be held in London more often than once in ten years.
Today the recipients are pensioners, chosen on an interdenominational basis from various Christian churches for their service to their churches and communities.
The Yeomen of the Guard, ‘Beefeaters’, are present at the ceremony and the choir of the Chapel Royal is also present.
Recipients now receive two purses in a single distribution, one white containing the Maundy coins, and one red containing the other money.
The Queen makes half of the presentations after the first lesson, and half after the second.
Queen Alexandra attends a Royal Maundy Service: