The practice of awarding the Freedom of the Town dates back to the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom. The tradition still lives on in the United Kingdom and other countries such as Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
It can also be granted by municipal authorities to military units which have earned the city’s trust; in this context, it is sometimes called the Freedom of Entry. This allows them the freedom to parade through the city or town, and is an affirmation of the bond between the regiment and the citizenry. The last regiment to be awarded this honour was the Yorkshire Regiment.
In today’s modern world, the title of “freeman” confers no special privileges but is the highest honour the Council can bestow upon a valued member of the community, a visiting celebrity or dignitary.