NEW information has helped shed some light on the history behind a cermonial staff donated to Fordingbridge Museum.

The staff was found in 1991 by Poole resident, Hugh Molver, at a local rubbish tip and thinking it looked interesting he took it home and kept it in his garage. Twenty eight years later he decided it was time to clear out the garage and he came across the staff which he decided to donate to Fordingbridge Museum.

Last July an appeal was published in the Journal asking the community to help uncover more about the six foot tall staff, which has the words “Hundred of Fordingbridge” written on it.

Museum manager Jane Ireland said: “People who responded to our media appeal thought it must have been some sort of ceremonial staff. We have been doing some research to see if we could establish what it was used for and discovered that the Constable of the Hundred of Fordingbridge was appointed at a ceremony in the Court House. This is the old building in Salisbury Street near to the post office. When the constable was elected he took his oath of office and was presented with his staff.”

The Constable would be responsible for the peace of the town and he had powers to arrest and detain prisoners.

He would also appoint the watch on the bridge during, ”fence month” to prevent poaching in the Forest. Another of his duties was to ensure traders were dealing fairly using standard weights and measures.

Jane added: “It is possible that the staff retrieved from the rubbish tip is the staff of office of the constable although further evidence would be needed to establish this definitely.

“We discovered that on Sundays, the constable, accompanied by the churchwardens, would leave the church during the service and visit the various public houses in the town to note the persons drinking there.

“I suspect that if he were around today he might be out in the town enforcing social distancing.”

The position of the Constable of the parish was abolished in 1878 so if the staff is his staff of office then it must predate this. Fordingbridge Museum would love to know where it was kept until 1991 when it was taken to the tip.

Fordingbridge Museum is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but if anyone can shed more light on the staff they can ring 01425 657850 or 01425 654322.