Role of the state jester set to return after 350 years

With their colourful three-pronged hats, mock sceptres and a wealth of rib-tickling tales, jesters had the considerable task of entertaining the bored monarchs of the Middle Ages. But when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy in 1649, the jester disappeared from court and country.

Yesterday, it was announced that, after an absence of more than 350 years, the role of the jester is to be resurrected. English Heritage has published an advertisement for the first state-funded jester since the 17th century.

The advertisement read: "Jester wanted. Must be mirthful and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005. Must have own outfit (with bells). Bladder on stick provided if required. Salary to be negotiated."

Tracy Borman, the director of education, events and outreach at English Heritage, said: "It is about time we had a jester again. This will be the first jester to be employed by the state for hundreds of years.

"It is one of those roles that fell by the wayside when Cromwell made the republic, but there is no reason not to bring it back now."

The 21st century jester will be selected tomorrow at the Festival of History in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

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