Tuesday March 19 talk in Martham
Church, 7.30 to 9.15 p.m.
Mary Fewster, on her third visit,
gave a history of Civic
Regalia held by various East Anglia towns. Treasured and
greatly valued, it represents
the history of Charters given by Kings long ago.
Charters allowed cities such
as Norwich and towns such as Great Yarmouth to govern
themselves. Ours, given
by King John in 1208, gave us the right to self-govern.
We are familiar with Mayoral
processions wearing their
chains of office, which were not introduced until the
18th century, and
carrying symbols of their power. “Mayor” derives from
the Latin word major,
meaning bigger. Mayors are thus the highest ranking
officials within a city or
town. We studied pictures of various maces and even
handled one. Until 17thC
they were smaller but weighty and were seen as weapons.
Fortunately these days
they are much larger and ornate and symbolic of the
Housed in the Town Hall in Great
Yarmouth, our Mace dates to
1690 and is used in Mayoral processions. Insignias
showing ships on Seals
represent the importance to coastal towns of shipping
Great Yarmouth’s sword dates to 1680.
This sword, the blade
up and sheathed, is carried in procession in front of
the Mayor. When entering
a church the blade is down to represent a cross. The
sword is unsheathed in
times of war so in 1945 there was a ceremony to
Over time many other important items
of plate have been
collected from Thetford to Kings Lynn and during
important banquets these items
are displayed, called a Buffet.
Great Yarmouth has a ceremonial key
and a silver trowel with
the borough arms and the Prince of Wales' arms which had
been used for the
ceremonial laying of the foundation stone of the Town
Hall. There are items
dating after 1660. Plate before this date in Great
Yarmouth was seized to pay
parliamentary troops during the civil war.
Among our town’s greatest treasures
are, for me, the keys to
the Hutch box, a seven key “treasure chest” where all
Yarmouth’s Charters and
ancient documents were kept. Long ago the hutch was kept
in the Vestry of St.
Nicholas, then in the Tolhouse and now safely on the
landing in the Town Hall.
Our current Mayor and her Consort
accepted our invitation to
attend and we were given the privilege of viewing and
handling various Great
interesting evening showcasing civic pride in the
treasures that are Regalia