The mystery Lord of Bowland has dismissed claims that his Lordship is a mere status symbol.
The 16th Lord, who likes to be known simply as William Bowland, has spoken out for the first time since buying the ancient aristocratic title in October last year.
He has revealed he is to reinstate the ancient title of Bowbearers – a high-ranking ceremonial officers who attended to the Lord of Bowland and bore his bow during hunting – a rank not held for almost 150 years.
And the Cambridge University professor, who specialises in the history, place names and dialects of Lancashire, described Bowland as the “Switzerland of England”.
He said: “Vanity doesn’t come into it. For me, this is about Bowland, a very special place.
“This is my personal stake in the community, its history and heritage. The Lord of Bowland no longer has any political role. He doesn’t administer justice or manage the forest.
“As Lord, I have some power to help preserve traditions and for that reason, reviving the office of Bowbearer seemed the right thing to do. Robert Parker, a charming man whose family have played a central role in the life of the Forest for almost eight centuries, will make a wonderful Bowbearer.
“But the future matters more than the past. We should think of the Lordship of Bowland as a marketing opportunity.”
He is believed to have paid several thousand pounds for the title from one of Lancashire’s aristocratic families, the Townleys.
Lord Bowland added: “We can dismiss the Lordship as a hangover from a bygone age. Or we can celebrate it as a part of Bowland’s heritage.
“We should exploit the fact that Bowland has a Lordship that goes back a thousand years – an amazing fact – to help protect, preserve and where appropriate, promote Bowland in all its uniqueness.
“In the thirties, it was common to describe Bowland as the ‘Switzerland of England’.
“Not just because of its stunning scenery but also on account of the contentment of its inhabitants, their sturdy independence of spirit and general prosperity.”