The feudal holder of the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, England, has, since the Norman Conquest in 1066, held the manor from the Crown by grand serjeanty of being The Honourable The King's/Queen's Champion. Such person is also Standard Bearer of England.
The office of King's Champion was originally granted to Robert Marmion, along with the castle and manor of Tamworth and the Manor of Scrivelsby in 1066. From then until the nineteenth century the officer's role was to act as champion for the King at his coronation, in the unlikely event that someone challenged the new King's title to the throne. The Champion was required to ride in full armour into Westminster Hall during the coronation banquet, escorted by the Earl Marshal and the Lord High Constable, all in full dress, robes and coronets, and await the challenge to all comers. The King himself could not fight in single combat against anyone except an equal. This trial by combat remained purely ceremonial and had a central place in the coronation banquet.
By 1377 the male line of the Marmions had died out, and in that year the office of King's Champion at the coronation of King Richard II was fulfilled by Sir John Dymoke, who had married Margaret Ludlow, daughter of Sir Thomas Ludlow and Johanna Marmion, daughter of Philip Marmion. Margaret was the heiress of the Marmion family, and so held the Manor of Scrivelsby. The claim by Sir Baldwin de Freville, who then held the Manor of Tamworth, was rejected.
In later years, the Garter King of Arms read out the challenge, and the Champion threw down the gauntlet at the entrance to Westminster Hall, then again in the middle of the Hall, and lastly at the foot of the Throne, each time repeating the challenge. Each time the gauntlet was recovered by Garter. The Champion was rewarded with a gilt, covered cup, the King or Queen Regnant having first drunk to the Champion from it.
It is alleged that the challenge was actually accepted in 1689 by an old woman, supposedly a noted Jacobite swordsman in disguise, who challenged the Dymoke of the day to combat next day in Hyde Park. There is no evidence to support this claim. Equally, rumour reported that in 1764 a lady's white kid glove fluttered down into the Hall, supposedly from a Jacobite.
If the Champion fought, and won, he got as his reward the armour he wore, and the horse he rode (the second best in the Royal Mews), both of which were on loan.
The words of the challenge varied over the years, but those used for King George IV were these:
"If any person, of whatever degree soever, high or low, shall deny or gainsay [contradict] our Sovereign Lord George, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, son and next heir unto our Sovereign Lord the last King deceased, to be the right heir to the imperial Crown of this realm of Great Britain and Ireland, or that he ought not to enjoy the same; here is his Champion, who saith that he lieth, and is a false traitor, being ready in person to combat with him, and in this quarrel will adventure his life against him on what day soever he shall be appointed."
William IV held no coronation banquet in 1831, so the King's Champion was not called upon to act, although at 1902 coronation of Edward VII his claim was admitted by the Court of Claims, and he was allowed to be Standard Bearer of England.
Current Queen's Champion
The current and 34th Queen's Champion and 33rd Lord of the manor of Scrivelsby, Thornton and Dalderby and patron of the living of Scrivelsby-cum-Dalderby is Lieutenant-Colonel John Lindley Marmion Dymoke, MBE DL Royal Lincolnshire Regiment. He acted as Standard-Bearer of the Union Flag at the coronation service of Her Majesty The Queen in 1953.
His eldest son and heir is Francis Dymoke, a chartered accountant and estate owner.
- Lodge, M.A., Rev. Samuel A. (1893). Scrivelsby, Home of the Champions with some accounts of the Marmion & Dymoke Families. High St., London, England: W. K. Morton. pp. 41, Chapter IV, The Marmions.
- "Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Vol.13, 188/9, pp. 1–5, Little Sodbury". Bgas.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- Lodge, The Rev. Samuel (1893). Scrivelsby, The Home of the Champions. Horncastle: W K Morton.