Role of the Mayor
Every year a serving Councillor is elected by the Members and appointed as the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead.
The Mayor is the First Citizen of the Borough and, as such, is:
- a symbol of the authority;
- a symbol of open society;
- an expression of social cohesion;
- entirely apolitical for their term of office.
This means that, while the Mayor is not The Queen's Representative in the borough, only Her Majesty The Queen, members of the Royal Family and Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey (The Queen's Representative in the area) take precedence over the Mayor at events in the borough.
The Mayor's correct title is 'The Worshipful the Mayor of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead'.
The Mayor's term of office is one year and the Mayor changes in mid-May at the Annual meeting of Council.
The Mayor attends many different types of functions throughout the Borough of Reigate and Banstead, such as formal dinners, official openings of events or new facilities, talking to clubs and societies and visiting schools.
The Mayor also hosts visits to the Mayor's Parlour in the Town Hall from various organisations and is always happy to receive a request for a visit.
The Mayor asks the Deputy Mayor to stand in if the Mayor is not available.
The Mayor is responsible, in a non-political way, for furthering the interests of the borough whenever and wherever an appropriate occasion arises.
The Mayor acts as host to distinguished visitors to the borough, including royalty, national representatives of various organisations and foreign visitors, especially those from our twin towns.
The Mayoress, Consort or Escort
If the Mayor is male, it is entirely up to the Mayor who he calls his Mayoress. It can be a wife, daughter or female friend.
If the Mayor is female and married, then she may decide that her husband will accompany her on official business and he would then be referred to as the Mayor's Consort.
Alternatively, a Mayor may appoint another person to accompany him or her on official business and, in this instant, that person is referred to as the Mayor's Escort. For example, a male Mayor may appoint a male or female friend as his Escort and, equally, a female Mayor may appoint a female or male friend as her Mayor's Escort.
These titles have no official recognition and are strictly honorary.
The meaning of 'Mayor'
The word 'Mayor' derives from the latin word 'Magnus' meaning 'great'. The office of Mayor, together with the Domesday book and the feudal system, were brought to this country by the Normans. Such an office had existed on the continent since at least the fifth century.
The first English Mayor was the Mayor of London, appointed in 1189 by Richard I. The first Mayor of Reigate was Thomas Dann, December 1863 to November 1864. He was a Quaker and local lime and coal merchant and was a prime mover to join Reigate with Redhill into a unified scheme of local government. The Borough of Reigate was formed with Redhill from the old Manor of Reigate. The 49th Mayor, Ernest Crowe became the 53rd and the first Mayor of the new Reigate and Banstead Council in 1974.
On very formal occasions, such as the annual meeting of the Council, Remembrance Day, Civic Sunday and Freedom of the Borough ceremonies, the Mayoral robes are worn. On these occasions, the chain of office is also worn with the Mayoral robes, which are edged with synthetic fur. The chain can also be worn on its own for other important engagements in the Borough. When the robes are worn the Macebearer is in attendance.
The use of ceremonial maces has its precedence in the use of the mace as a weapon of war. Today's ceremonial maces are a highly ornamental descendant of the prehistoric club or bludgeon.
In the course of time, the mace became no longer a weapon but a symbol of authority. Today's ceremonial maces are therefore carried upside down.
The mace precedes the Mayor when entering and leaving the Council Chamber and rests horizontally in front of the Mayor when council is sitting.
The Council’s mace is 48 inches long and weighs 18lbs. It was made by Elkington and Co. of Birmingham in 1896 and presented by Alderman F.E. Barnes JP CC on 26 November 1900. Alderman Barnes was the Mayor of Reigate from 1897-99.
The Mayor’s Chain of Office
In July 1869 Mayor Charles Smith, the third Mayor of Reigate, presented a loyal address to the Prince of Wales who came with Princess Alexandria to lay the memorial stone to an addition to the Earlswood Asylum. At the following Council meeting he reported the Royal ceremonial event and the agenda contains a proposal that 'a golden chain be provided for the Mayor as his insignia of office at a cost not to exceed 150 guineas'.
The proposal was passed and the Mayor wore the chain for the October meeting. It had been supplied by Mr Henry Fowle, of Fowle & Sons, Redhill, clockmaker and jeweller, who claimed subsequently it had been made at cost, presumably no more than £150 guineas, £157.50. The Chain is triple linked and weighs 20 ounces. It is engraved on both sides of the large links.
The Mayor’s Badge
The Mayor’s Badge bears the Coat of Arms of the Borough which was granted in 1975. It is a combination of the elements of the Reigate shield, the device of Banstead and symbols of the parishes of Horley and Salfords and Sidlow. The Mayor’s Badge weighs 3.5 ounces and was presented in 1975 by Legal and General when Reigate and Banstead merged.
The shield has a background of blue and yellow chequers taken from the arms of the de Warenne family. William de Warenne accompanied William the Conqueror from Normandy and was the first Earl of Surrey and the builder of Reigate Castle. Against this pattern is the Reigate Castle Gate and oak tree.
The top of the shield has a black background as in the original Reigate arms but on which is a gold woolpack between two sprigs of oak. The woolpack or woolsack refers to the former importance of sheep rearing and wool production in Banstead. The oak sprigs represent the two parishes of Horley and Salfords and Sidlow.
Above the shield is a helmet with a wreath and draped cloth also in the blue and gold of the de Warennes. On top of the helmet is a pilgrim referring to the ancient route along the escarpment of the North Downs by Banstead and Reigate, the Pilgrims Way.
On either side of the shield is a white lion and a white horse. The lion comes from the Arms of the de Mowbray family who were briefly Lords of the Manor of Banstead in the 12th century. The horse refers to the tradition of horse racing on Banstead Downs in the 17th century and immortalised in the Oaks race of Epsom Derby Friday. On the necks of the animals are wreaths again in the blue and yellow. On the shoulders are roundels of blue and white waves indicating the River Mole in Horley and Sidlow.
The roundel on the lion has a tanner’s (or flaying) knife, the emblem of St Bartholomew, the patron of Horley, who is said to have been flayed or skinned before he was crucified. The roundel on the shoulder of the horse has a sallow leaf, a reference to Salfords, which is derived from Sallow Ford. The Sallow tree is commonly known as Pussy Willow.
The motto "Never Wonne ne never shall" is taken from an ancient couplet and refers to the defeat of the Danes by King Alfred in a battle in the Vale of Holmesdale in the 9th century, now remembered in the name Battlebridge. Reigate Castle has also been known as Holmesdale Castle. A translation is "Never conquered nor never shall".
The Mayor's Chaplain
The Mayor's Chaplain is chosen by the Mayor. It is an honorary title and the Chaplain attends civic functions, for example Remembrance Day or any occasions when the Mayor is robed. They are responsible for prayers before Council meetings and Grace at Civic Dinners where requested.