Search continues for next Monmouth macebearer

- Local People

Chris Were

by Chris Were - Reporter

Monmouth Town Council is continuing its search for a second mace bearer.

The role involves attending civic occasions with the mayor, in full regalia and carrying one of the town’s two historic maces. The uniform will be supplied as part of the role. The town’s new macebearer would be expected to assist the mayor in approximately six events a year which are usually held on weekends.

Monmouth’s mayor enjoys the protection of two macebearers. This is signified by dual maces on the Monmouth mayor’s chain, either side of the pendant. In the mid-13th century a seal had been acquired from King Henry III with certain privileges. This is generally considered when the office of Monmouth’s mayor dates back to. In 1447 Henry VI granted the first charter of "liberty and franchise". This included provisions for the annual election of the mayor, along with the right for two maces to be "borne before the mayor".

The maces bear the arms of the Duchy of Lancaster to which the Marcher lords of Hereford owed feudal duty. A Marcher lord was a noble appointed by the king to guard the border (known as the Welsh Marches) between England and Wales. In 1716 the council made a decision to sell the maces but no record was kept of what happened to them. However, there is a record of the maces being repaired fifty years later. The maces now in use are hallmarked 1706.

The vacancy has been left after John Blake, also known as ’Mister Monmouth’, retired from his role last year as mace bearer after 53 years of service. While records of the macebearers of Monmouth are incomplete, John Blake is likely the longest serving macebearer in Monmouth’s history.

He was thrust into the job many years ago when he was asked to try on the uniform to see if it fitted him. "The two mace bearers at the time both stood down" he said, "and as I was working for the council, we were called up to the office to see who would fit into the uniforms". As John was the right size, he was ’given’ the job. He was to be introduced to many people over the years, royalty such as Princess Diana when she visited Bridges, Princesses Margaret and Ann as well as the Prince of Wales and the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward.

For many years he and Graham Powell headed the mayoral procession through town on annual events such as the carnival - which John helped to start up - and the civic service, held annually every May when a new mayor is elected.

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