For the first time in almost a century the Mayor of Barnstaple has been unable to carry out a time honoured tradition and deliver the Barnstaple Shilling.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Councillor Alan Rennles has become the first mayor since the 1930s to be unable to visit the local almshouses and continue the custom of gifting each resident with a commemorative shilling.

Instead, a bespoke gift card has been designed with a shilling inside and sent to every almshouse resident.

The origins of the custom are thought to date back to the 18th century when a landowner decreed in his will that rent money should be distributed to charity – and the vicar would hand out the money to almshouses residents at Christmas.

In the 1930s the landowner decided he wouldn’t pay any more and the custom fell to the town council.

At first a sixpence was given but in 1985 the Barnstaple Shilling was struck and continues to this day.