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Theresa: Bring back the Maidenhead mayoral chain

  • 18 Oct 2013

Theresa May has called for the Maidenhead mayoral chain to be reinstated. The chain was taken out of use in 1974 when the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead was formed, and the Windsor mayoral chain was adopted as the official chain for the borough. The chain is worn by the Mayor at official events and represents the authority and dignity of the Mayoralty. Theresa has called for the Maidenhead chain and mace to be reinstated alongside the Windsor ones, so that both can be used.

The creation of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead in 1974 resulted in the redundancy of the Maidenhead Mayoral chain and mace, following a decision to adopt the Windsor chain and mace as the official regalia. The Maidenhead regalia were previously used by the Mayor of Maidenhead, a position that was removed with the creation of a new Mayor of the Royal Borough. The Maidenhead regalia are still held by the Royal Borough and can be used by the Mayoress.

During his recent Mayoralty, Cllr Colin Rayner wore the Maidenhead chain at several events in the town – perhaps the first time that the chain has been worn by a Mayor for several decades. This was well received by Maidenhead residents, and raises the question as to why the Maidenhead regalia cannot be used on an official basis at events in the Royal Borough.

Theresa believes there is no reason for the Windsor regalia to take precedence and has written to the Leader of the Council, David Burbage, to ask him to consider this.

Commenting, Theresa said: “I think it would be proper for the council to reinstate the Maidenhead chain and mace on an equal basis to the Windsor ones, with the Mayor choosing which to use on which occasion. This would be a symbolic change, demonstrating Windsor and Maidenhead’s equal status within the Royal Borough. The Maidenhead regalia are of historic importance and it would be greatly welcome if the council could demonstrate that it understands the traditions and history of Maidenhead in this regard.”

Background Info

  • The corporation of Maidenhead (‘Maydenheth’) was formed in 1582 following the granting of a charter by Queen Elizabeth I. The corporation operated under a warden.
  • In 1604, King James I reaffirmed the charter and recognised the increasing importance of the corporation through the provision of two mace-bearers to go before the warden.
  • The role of mayor of Maidenhead is thought to date back to 1685 when King James II raised the town’s warden to the rank of mayor. The first elected mayor of Maidenhead took office following elections in January 1836 as a result of the Municipal Reform Act.
  • By the early 20th century, the regalia belonging to the corporation of Maidenhead included a seal, two silver-gilt maces, four bridge masters’ staves, two halberds and pikes and the mayor’s chain and robe.

Source: ‘Bray with the borough of Maidenhead: Introduction, borough and manors’, A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 93-107. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43188 Date accessed: 10 October 2013.