History and traditions
- Council and democracy
In Britain, the civic office of Mayor brings with it over 800 years of tradition and loyalty to the Crown, and a direct link to the monarch through parliament.
The current position of Barnet Mayor was created in 1965 when the two borough councils of Finchley and Hendon were amalgamated with three urban district councils to form the London Borough of Barnet.
The Mayor is elected each year by fellow councillors and is the first citizen of the borough, only the Queen (or her representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London) takes precedence.
As part of his or her duties, the Mayor has to sign, and witness the sealing of, all legal documents from the council.
Mayor’s Regalia and the Mace
The Mayor’s robe is scarlet and centuries ago rich colours such as this would have indicated great wealth and status as they were very expensive to produce.
The robe is worn with a white lace collar called a ‘jabot’, and a black ‘cocked’ hat (or three-pointed ‘tricorn’ for the ladies) which is trimmed with gold braid.
The Deputy Mayor’s robe is maroon and his or her hat has silver braid. Councillors also have robes - they are black in colour with a black trimmed hat.
Mauve robes and black tricorn hats are worn by the mace bearers. The Chief Executive of the Council has a style of robe that dates back to the town clerks of the 17th century and includes the traditional wig and bands.
The mace began life as a weapon! It was originally an iron rod with a chain and a heavy iron ball or spike on the end.
It was carried by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the then ruling King or Queen, who became what we know today as a mace bearer. The mace would have been carried in front of a royal person for protection, and nobody was ever allowed to come between the monarch and the mace.
That tradition still remains today - no-one must come between the mace and the Mayor. Years ago, among other things, the Mayor was a tax collector and so the mace became a handy weapon of defence! At ceremonial occasions, the mace bearers carry the two maces of Barnet - one from Hendon and the other from Finchley.
Both these towns were granted royal charters in the 1930s. Each silver mace bears a history of the area they come from.
The Mayor's badge is an important piece of civic regalia as it forms part of the mayoral chain.
No legal document is considered legal until it has been ‘sealed’, or stamped, with the borough crest and signed by the Mayor.
In days gone by what better place to keep the important seal safe than around the Mayor’s neck? Hence why a replica of the borough’s crest, 'the badge', became a symbol of the mayoralty along with the Chain of Office.
Today, the seal is stored in a safe but is still used to seal all legal documents on a weekly basis.
The Mayor’s chain was presented to the borough of Barnet in 1965 by the union NALGO - now known as UNISON. The white and yellow gold chain shows the Barnet crest and accompanies the Mayor on all official events.
Coat of Arms
Barnet’s Coat of Arms, as shown on the Mayor’s Badge, is used on all mayoral correspondence and may be seen on signs around the borough - as well as being emblazoned on the flag on the mayoral car. The Grant of Arms was given to the borough on 1 January 1965.
It bears the motto Unitas efficit ministerium meaning “unity achieves service”.
Derivation of the Arms symbols
The lamb and flag standing on a green hill is taken from the Arms of the former Borough of Hendon and symbolises the Saxon derivation of Hendon with the place name meaning of “at the High Down” joined with the badge which formed the weather vane of the ancient parish church of St Mary’s, Hendon.
The Saxon crown comes from the Arms of the former County of Middlesex and is used to perpetuate that county.
The red and white roses come from the Arms of the former East Barnet and Barnet Urban District Councils and symbolise the Wars of the Roses, a climax of which was reached at the Battle of Barnet.
The airscrew comes from the former Borough of Hendon’s Arms and symbolises the Aerodrome.
The swords come from the former East Barnet and Barnet Urban District Councils and represent the battle fought there.
The lion and the stag supporters come from the former Borough of Finchley’s Arms where the lion represented the historic connections of the manor with the family of Compton from whose Arms it was taken and the Stag symbolises the game that was once hunted through Finchley’s forests.
The crosses on the supporters’ shoulders come from the former Friern Barnet Urban District Council’s Arms where they symbolised the connection with the ancient Priory there which belonged to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem.
- The Worshipful the Mayor
- London Borough of Barnet
London NW4 4BG
- Tel: 020 8359 2652
- Email: email@example.com