A church service has been held in Reading to usher in the new Judicial year.

In October of every year, the Judicial Year begins, which marks the end of recess for judges and the reopening of the courts.

The beginning of the Judicial Year is marked with a church service attended by Reading Crown Court judges and the Mayors of the surrounding towns.

The event was organised by The Berkshire Lieutenancy and Simon Muir the High Sheriff of Berkshire, with the Christian service being held at Reading Minster Church.

Judges, Mayors and other guests sang hymns, engaged in prayer and heard the bible story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, who gave up his wealth to follow Jesus Christ.

Richard Bennett, the Deputy Lieutenant of Berkshire said: “It was a very varied service, we’ve had the Reading Gospel Choir here today, we’ve had a choir from Ludgrove School as well, and a speech from the Reverend Nick Hill, who is the High Sheriffs chaplain.

“This is an event organised by the High Sheriff of Berkshire Simon Muir, it marks the start of the Judicial Year, which is why we’ve had all the judges here today in all their finery.”

The service is the latest in a long tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.

In the reign of King Edward I, the country was divided into circuits and judges travelled around holding court at the principle town of each circuit.

In Berkshire, the principal towns were Abingdon and Reading. After the opening of the assize courts in 1861 Reading gained pre-eminence and Abingdon lost its status as a county and assize town.

Mr Bennett explained: “It’s a service and partly as a dedication to send them Godspeed on their way through the year to encourage them in their administration of justice.

“And actually the advantage of this is that it’s an open event, whilst there are a lot of invited people, it’s totally open, anyone could come to it.”

The service was held on Friday, October 13.

Among those present were councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) the Mayor of Reading and his consort, cllr Beth Rowland (Liberal Democrats, South Lake), the Mayor of Wokingham Borough, cllr Naheed Ejaz (Labour, Great Hollands North) the Mayor of Bracknell Forest.

Also present was cllr Caroline Smith (Liberal Democrats, Hillside) the Mayor of Earley, her consort cllr Mike Smith (Liberal Democrats, Maiden Erlegh) and cllr Janet Sartorel (Liberal Democrats, Loddon South) the Mayor of Woodley.

The Mayors took part in a civic procession, with 30 judges in the judicial procession.

Leading the civic procession was James Puxley, the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, who is due to leave the office in two weeks’ time.