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Mayors chain of office

The chain of office represents the responsibility, authority and dignity which are attached to the office of the Mayor.

The chain of office consists of two parts - the chain itself and the badge.

The chain

The mayor's chain of office has its origins in the 'livery' collars of the middle ages. But then, as now, livery could take many different forms.

Livery was granted by a person or corporation to their followers, friends or servants as a visible sign of service. The term actually comes from the French word 'livree' and means 'donated' or 'handed over'.

Rulers or noblemen, for instance, dressed their servants in clothes of a specific colour, or gave badges with special designs to their allies and supporters. By the 14th century many of these badges were designed in two colours; and as with modern football strips, the colours often changed from year to year.

Collars and chains

The most valuable examples of livery were collars or chains, usually made of gold, which were donated to high ranking officials as symbols of their rank. One of the oldest chains, the Collar of Esses, was granted by the royal House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century; it was worn by Henry VIII's chancellor, Sir Thomas More; and still exists today.

In the middle ages these chains would include a badge containing a symbolic image - the badge on the Collar of Esses was the white swan of Lancaster. While this use of symbolic badges has continued to the present day, there was a trend in the 16th century for badges to include miniature portraits of their donors instead.

Does livery exist today?

In a sense, any kind of uniform is a form of livery. In the 17th and 18th centuries military dress was known as livery. A well known example from the present day are the uniforms of city traders.

Company logos on trains, planes and buses are another kind of livery; even the corporate designs on the bodywork of Formula 1 racing cars.

The mayoral chain

In the middle ages many large towns were powerful and virtually independent. Although surrounded by the estates of great noblemen, they nurtured their own ambitions to the same influence. One way of showing this was to develop their own coats of arms. Another was to have a distinct corporate livery.

Therefore, just as the important royal or noble officials of the day adopted the gold chain as their symbol of office, so too did mayors, as the chief officials of medieval towns.

The Mayor of Hillingdon's chains of office

The Mayor of Hillingdon actually has two chains of office, the double chain and the single chain.

  • The double chain tends to be worn with the Mayoral robes on civic and special occasions. It is silver gilt, hallmarked and was made in Birmingham in 1965.
  • The single chain was also made in Birmingham, in 1967, and was presented to the Borough by Electrical and Musical Industries in 1968.

The chains of office represent the Mayor's dignity, responsibility and authority.

The badges

A key function of the mayoral badge is to be worn as part of the chains of office. There are actually three mayoral badges in Hillingdon.

Hillingdon badge Mayor's formal badge

This was made by Vaughtons and consists of an enamelled London Borough of Hillingdon crest.

The crest includes features from the coats of arms of the four councils that amalgamated to form the borough.  Find out more »

The back opens to reveal gilt pages engraved with the names of previous mayors from the years 2001 to 2002.

Polish Eagle Badge Polish Eagle badge

The Polish Eagle badge was presented to the Borough specifically to be worn by the Mayor.

The eagle itself is an emblem taken from the caps of Polish Air Force generals.

US Navy badge US Navy badge

The US Navy Chiefs Badge was donated to the London Borough of Hillingdon by London CPO Association in May 2007 to be worn by the Mayor.  It was made by UT2 (SCW) Trickel M.D.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 02 Jun 2017 at 11:52