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The Bedford Staff - one of a collection of parish constable staves dating to the 1720’s housed at St Mary the Virgin Church in Leigh Lancashire.
These staves were used by the constables of the 3 main parish areas: Bedford, Westleigh and Pennington. These staves held both a ceremonial function within the church and outside of it as both an emblem of office and a weapon. These staves later evolved into the modern baton/truncheon.
Before the onset of professional policing, something often overlooked is the close relationship which once existed between the church and the imposition of law and order. In the Middle Ages the parish was the smallest unit of local government in the country.
Further Reading: Parish Constables - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parish_constable
St Mary the Virgin Church, Leigh - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mary_the_Virgin%27s_Church,_Leigh