Mayoral Robes

The Mayor wears the Robe on appropriate civic and ceremonial occasions throughout the year.

The Robes of Lord Mayors, Mayors, Aldermen and Councillors play a very much more important part than is generally supposed. The discipline, orderliness and freedom of the British Nation have, for centuries, been held in the highest regard and the Civic Robes are the outward symbols of these qualities. There is little doubt that Robes originated with the Priests, and that the Priests were the early "dispensers of justice".

The Robes of Office worn by Mayors consisted of a sable-furred scarlet robe and tricorn hat and were first instituted by the antiquarian, George Grant Francis, during his mayoralty in 1853-4.

Today, in Surrey Heath, the Mayoral Robe is of traditional design and is made from scarlet wool trimmed with full-length facings of faux fur. The sleeves are also trimmed with faux fur, together with a band of black velvet. When commissioning the Robe, the Council made the conscious decision to use "faux" or fake fur rather than real animal fur.

The Mayoral hat changes shape depending on the gender of the Mayor. If the Mayor is female a tricorn hat is worn, and if the Mayor is male, a bicorn hat is worn.

To complete the "uniform" the Mayor wears a lace stock or "jabot" and white cotton gloves. If the Mayor is female lace cuffed half sleeves are also worn.

Chain of Office

The Chain of Office consists of two parts, the Chain and Badge, and the "Jewel".

The Chain is made of silver-gilt and comprises alternate rectangular and oval links joined by chain-link. The links have been purposely left blank in order that the name of the Mayor, together with the date of their Mayoralty, may be inscribed thereon. In 1999 an additional twelve links were fitted to the Chain of Office.

The Badge is central to the Chain and is made from silver gilt and enamel. The Badge consists of a white oval on which is depicted a pine tree on heathland, such as formed part of the Clump on Chobham Common. The oval is enclosed within the gold and blue wreath from the Crest, giving the Surrey colours and completing a pictorialisation of the name Surrey Heath.

The "Jewel" hangs from an acorn suspended below the Badge; it is made from silver gilt and enamel and is the Surrey Heath Coat of Arms. The arms comprise a complete 'achievement' of arms, crest, supporters, badge and motto. Further information on the Coat of Arms can be found on the council section of the Surrey Heath website.

The Mace

The Mace was, and is, a weapon of war, the oldest and most universal weapon produced by man, for the ceremonial Mace of today is but the highly ornamental descendant of the prehistoric club or bludgeon.

With the introduction of armour among fighting men, the wooden club or bludgeon came to be bound with iron, and then made of iron and steel alone and, by the 11th and 12th centuries had developed into a stylised weapon of a formidable nature. Some detailed description of this weapon is necessary, for this was the direct ancestor of the ceremonial Mace.

The war Mace of the days of chivalry, that is of close-fighting armoured men, was of iron or steel, about two feet long, at the hitting end was a bole fitted with four or more spikes or flanges with sharp points and capable, when used with force, of penetrating or cracking the contemporary helmet or armour; at the other end was some sort of hand grip and with a knob at the other end to prevent it slipping out of the hand.

This was adopted as the peculiar or special weapon of the Serjeants-at-Arms appointed first by Philip II of France (1180-1223) to guard his person from suspected assassins when he returned to France after deserting the cause of the Crusaders and, according to contemporary chroniclers, a similar bodyguard was instituted by Richard I of England, Coeur-de-Lion. Possibly, the Mace was adopted as the weapon for this nearest bodyguard for the reason that it was handy by day or night and comparatively silent. Another curious point to be noted is that the Mace was also the peculiar weapon of a Bishop or Churchman when he took the field in war; here the argument apparently was that while it was not considered right for a man of God to shed a fellow creature's blood with a sword or battle-axe, to crack his skull was allowable - a fine distinction!

It soon became the custom, quite naturally, for the King's Serjeants-at-Arms to have the Royal Arms inscribed or engraved on the knob at the handle end. Also, it came to be decorated with gold and silver inlay, etc.

As the King's Serjeants-at-Arms, and presently the Serjeants and similar Officers allowed to attend on Sheriffs, Bailiffs and Mayors, gradually became less and less the armed personal bodyguard, and more and more the messengers or ambassadors to convey the Royal orders to local authorities, so the Mace with the Royal arms inscribed on it which he carried became the obvious and visible passport to show the Royal Authority.

In the course of time, therefore, it is easy to see how the hitting end of the Mace fell out of use and the handle end increased in importance. First the knob with the plate or button with the Royal Arms was enlarged, and the arms done in silver or enamel, and then later it sprouted a coronet. At the same time the Mace became entirely covered with and eventually wholly made of precious metal. Now the Mace is no longer a weapon of offence, but solely a symbol of authority; the sharp hitting flanges dropped off, the coronet expanded into a full sized crown and the whole weapon swelled to proportions too large to be wielded to strike, and thus by the end of the Tudor period the Ceremonial Mace was fully fledged.

The pattern of Mace most commonly seen today was standardised by Royal decree of Charles I (Parliament Order of 1649, Instructions for Cities and Towns to obey Maundy's 'forme and patterne of Maces') confirmed under the Commonwealth (but substituting an acorn for the orb and cross) and restored under Charles II.

A curious and interesting point to note about the evolution of the Mace is that it was also a revolution; the hitting head became the innocuous base and the handle knob became the head and so it is that, today, the Ceremonial Mace is carried, so to speak, upside down.

The Mace should precede the Mayor when entering and leaving the Council Chamber, and should always repose in front of the Mayor when the Council is sitting. When the Mayor is seated the Mace rests horizontally before him or her with the crown to his or her right hand or in the more important direction. Thus, should the Mayor occupy a stall in the choir of a church, the crown of the Mace should be towards the Altar. The Mace should always be reversed in the presence of Royalty (this is because the Mace is a symbol of the Mayor's position as representative of the Sovereign; such a symbol is not required in the actual presence of Royalty).

The Mace usually incorporates a Royal crown or other Royal insignia, and as such is a token of Royal authority. Only those local authorities that are created Corporations by Royal Charter are entitled to such a Mace and in many of the ancient Charters the right to carry a Mace (or two or more Maces, as the case may be) before the Mayor is expressly granted to the Corporation. A newly created Borough without a Charter may not use such a Mace without Royal permission, but no permission is needed to possess and use a Mace not having any Royal insignia.

In Surrey Heath, the Mace in use today was presented to the Borough Council in May 1986 when Mr Gerald Digby became Mayor of the Borough. Marconi Command and Control Systems Limited, whose offices where situated in the Chobham Road, Frimley, thought it fitting to mark the honour bestowed upon Mr Digby, an employee of the Company, by presenting a Ceremonial Mace to the Borough.

The Surrey Heath Mace measures 30" and is made of silver gilt. It weights approximately 55 troy ounces. A silver gilt and enamel Borough Coat of Arms is applied to one side of the "crown", with a silver gilt Royal Coat of Arms on the opposite side. The Staff of the Mace is engraved with the Stags Head and Crossed Swords found on the Borough Coat of Arms. The cushion to the Crown is engraved with the Badge, comprising a pine tree on heathland.