Our reporter takes a closer look at the Royal Borough's civic insignia

The impressive accessories which come with the role of Royal Borough mayor go on show to visitors once a month. Reporter WILL TAYLOR visited Maidenhead Town Hall to find out more about the civic insignia.


Will Taylor

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Being the mayor of the Royal Borough can be a very demanding role, with them often having more than 800 engagements to attend in their year-long term.

They are typically seen on these visits wearing regal-looking chains, robes and hats.

These go on display on the first Friday of every month from 10am until noon as Fred Simmonds, a civic volunteer and former mayor’s officer, shows them to the public.

The history of many of these items, known as the civic insignia, is very rich. Mayor’s officer Mark Blackshaw said: “We have quite a lot of silver in the parlour that people don’t really know about unless they come.

“They like the mayoral chain; that is quite important as it was given by King George IV.

“It’s interesting for all the family.”

Three chains can be worn by the mayor – one for Windsor, one for Maidenhead, and one for the entire Royal Borough.

The Windsor chain, used by the mayor when they are representing the town, is the most historic. It is made up of short and long gold links with medallions attached, the first of which was presented to the then-mayor of Windsor by King George IV in 1820.

“It is 22 carat gold,” said Mr Blackshaw.

William IV, presented a mount for the chain in 1830. Later, plaques were added to commemorate various royal coronations, dating from 1902 to this century.

Those bring the total weight of the chain to 16 ounces (almost half a kilogram), and a value of approximately £35,000.

The Maidenhead chain has a gold plaque with the enamelled coat of arms of the town on a shield-shaped plaque which displays a maiden’s head.

Mr Blackshaw said: “Tradition is what this country is known for. We have a special borough, and with the Queen’s 90th birthday there has been a lot of interest.”

Ceremonial maces are kept on display in the town hall, which are used as a symbol of authority – similar to the one used in Parliament – and local legislation cannot be passed without a mace present.

The largest is the silver gilt Maidenhead mace, with decorative patterns of flowers set into panels that lead up to the town’s coat of arms.

Smaller than that, but used much more often, is the Windsor mace, also known as the working mace. At 109cm (43”) in length, and weighing just over 3kg (110oz), it dates back to 1757 when it was made by a goldsmith in London.

The mace was valued for insurance purposes at £42,000 in 1996.

The ‘small mace’, which also represents Maidenhead, is estimated to date back to 1604. In 1683, it was ordered to be enlarged and ‘made more graceful’ – with a £10 budget. Other items of silverware on display in the mayor’s parlour include inscribed flagons and a model ship.

“I think it’s important for people to come along as we are quite an interesting borough,” Mr Blackshaw added.


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