King kingdom

New ‘king’ announced for remote island with 300-year-old pub and ruined castle

The world’s newest ‘monarch’ will soon be crowned after a remote UK island with a 300-year-old pub and a crumbling castle finally finds its ‘king’.

More than 190 people applied to become guardians of Piel Island, a 20-hectare island off the coast of Cumbria.

Barrow Council has named Aaron Sanderson, a local underwater electrician, as the preferred candidate for the 10-year contract. The 33-year-old knows the island well having visited it several times as a child.

He said the offer was both “an incredible risk and a wonderful opportunity”.

Island and Castle of Piel, Barrow-in-Furness.

Simon Ledingham/Wikimedia Commons

Island and Castle of Piel, Barrow-in-Furness.

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“I’m in a secure, well-paying role, but I’m willing to give it up for the chance to bring back the glory days at The Ship Inn,” he told the BBC. He said he planned to move to the island with his partner Anita Palfi.

Council leader Ann Thomson said Sanderson, from Barrow-in-Furness, had a “great understanding of Piel, the Ship Inn and the traditions of the island”.

Tradition holds that the new king or queen is crowned when he “sits in an ancient chair, wearing a helmet and holding a sword while alcohol is poured over his head”.

An anointing ceremony underway on Piel Island.

ship inn

An anointing ceremony underway on Piel Island.

The island is accessible by ferry, but apart from the pub the only other buildings are three houses and the ruins of a 14th-century castle.

The tradition of appointing a “monarch” for the island of Piel goes back centuries, reports the BBC.

In 1487, an army hoping to overthrow Henry VII landed on the island with a 10-year-old boy named Lambert Simnel who the rebellion claimed was the rightful heir to the throne of England but was, in reality, of humble origins.

The men camped overnight on the island before leaving for London, but were later defeated in a battle in Nottinghamshire.

In the 1800s, a group of island pub drinkers used this piece of history to decide that Piel Island should have its own monarch, and likely created the unusual traditions that come with it, reports the BBC.

Pub visitors can also take part in a ceremonial ‘knight’ when seated on a special oak seat. The cost to become a knight is to buy everyone present a round of drinks.