Historical Artefacts

civic-maces

This handsome pair of silver-gilt Maces, similar in appearance but not identical in their markings, dates from 1660 and 1661. They bear no hall-mark. The stems are engraved with the rose and thistle. The bowls on the head have in four panels, a decoration of the Royal badges (the fleur-de-lis, thistle, rose and harp all crowned) in relief with the initials 'CR' on either side.

The caps bear the Royal Arms in relief. The butt end of one mace has the castle motif copied from the Borough Arms faintly engraved on it. On the knob at the end of one is inscribed: 'This mace was made for the Devizes in Wilts in the year 1660 Master John Tayler being then Maier'; and on the other is inscribed: 'This mace was made for ye Corporation of ye Devizes in Wilts in ye yeare in 1660-1661.'

One of the first acts of the Corporation, after the passing of the Municipal Reform Act in 1835, was to pass a resolution on January 1 1836 - That the maces be not used, and that all distinction of dress be abolished'. The Mayor of Devizes, however, has for many years worn a gown, but is now the only member of the Council who retains the distinction of wearing a civic robe. The maces are now back in use and carried before the Town Mayor (the title adopted by the Council on reorganisation in 1974) on ceremonial occasions by the two mace bearers.

The Mayoress's Mace

The head of this mace originally formed part of The Rector's Mace', and was carried by the Parish Clerk. Sometime between 1833-1853 it was discovered in an old chest in St John's Church. It came into the possession of Henry Butcher (Mayor in 1851) and he remounted it on its present staff. The first occasion that it was used and called The Mayoress's Mace' was in 1857 at the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Corn Exchange, and it continues to be carried upon ceremonial occasions to this day.

High Constable's Staffs

Also depicted either side of the Mayoress's Mace are the High Constables' Staffs. The High Constables are considered to be the personal "body guards" of the Mayor. They are appointed by the Mayor.

The Silver Punch Bowl

This Punch Bowl and Ladle formerly belonged to the 'Brittox Club'. It is engraved with a crest of three feathers and the name 'The Brittox Club' above. Round the rim are inscribed 14 names, presumably the members. What the 'Brittox Club' was or when it flourished is now unknown. What we do know is that four of the names appear in the Corporation records of the first half of the 18th century as Councillors; one of them, Robert Sloper, being Mayor in 1743. The bowl was made by Thomas Mason, a well known silversmith of that period, and bears (alas now only faintly) his hallmark and date 1734-5. The ladle is hallmarked 1740-1.

The Loving Cup or Hanap Cup

This silver-gilt Cup of traditional form has the London hallmark of 1606-1607, and the maker's mark is a monogram of the letters A.B.' within a shield. On the bowl are four circular medallions and four rectangular spaces, the steeple cover having similar spaces to match. On these spaces are inscribed by Town Arms, the date 1620, when apparently it was given to the Town, and the names of the Mayor and the twelve Chief Burgesses (or Councillors) of the time. This is perhaps the most prized item of insignia the Town possesses and was probably made for use as a Chalice to serve sacramental wine or wafers.

The Cup is known as the 'Hanap Cup', and is carried before the Town Mayor on special civic occasions, but the origin of this custom is not known. The word 'hanap' is Norman French and derived from the Saxon 'Hnoep' - a cup or goblet.

Mayoral Chain and Badge

This fine piece of insignia is made of 18 carat gold and new links which are added from time to time are still made locally by a former Devizes goldsmith. The present day cost to have a link made would be about £1,000, depending on the actual current market value of gold on the London metal market. There were, until recently, 23 links in the chain, plus an enamelled link with replicas of the two maces. Add to these the large enamelled gold Badge with the motif of the Town Arms and you have before you insignia of great value. Its value to the Council as an historical item of insignia is, of course, much more important and cannot be stated in monetary terms. The links of the chain are shaped in the form of a shield and the names of past Mayors and their year of office engraved on them. The inscription on the Badge which hangs from the chain reads 'Presented by subscription' and lists six names of important citizens of the town, the local MP, Sir T Bateson, Bart; A Grant Meek Esq, Town Clerk; R L Lopes Esq, Recorder; H Vernon Halbert Esq, Clerk of the Peace; J H Burgess DL , Rector; G SAWaylen Esq. Coroner; and the date 1879.

At the end of 1999 it was decided to shorten the chain to enable 3 more links to be added, recording the names of the more recent Mayors. The remaining links have been made up to form part of the development of a second chain, perhaps to be worn by the Deputy Mayor.
Chain.

Badge of office worn with chain

The outgoing Mayor is usually presented with a silver gilt enamelled broach based on the design of the centre badge of the Mayor's Chain of Office. The date of the Mayor's term of office is engraved on the bottom panel. The outgoing Mayoress is usually presented with a silver broach.