Full pageantry accompanied the mayor-making ceremony in Rye Town Hall on Monday May 2.
Among the distinguished guests were the deputy Lieutenant of East Sussex , representing HM the Queen and representatives of some two dozen civic authorities, half of whom sported their gold chains of office. Some 65 invited guests were also present. The Speaker of the Cinque Ports wore an eight diamond-studded badge, doubtless of great value.
The solemnity of the occasion was marked by prayers said by the Mayor’s Chaplain, by much processioning and by rising to feet, and by the taking of loyal oaths to serve Queen and community without fear or favour.
Outgoing mayor Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore, resplendent in her robes, paid tribute to the work of all those community volunteers she had encountered during her term of office. She thanked town hall staff, and Anthony Kimber by name, for steering through the Neighbourhood Plan. Then, thrifty by nature, she declared that her under-spending on mayoral expenses had permitted otherwise budgeted funds to be given to three local charities.
Business proceeded with the installation of the new mayor, Cllr Jonathan Breeds and the deputy mayor, Cllr Michael Boyd, both following retirement (stage right) to the robing room and their re-appearance at the back of the chamber for the obligatory procession behind the mace-wielding town sergeant.
It was a solemn historic occasion marked by due pomp and circumstance, and the assembled guests treated it as such. However, it had its lighter moments, such as when the town clerk admitted to having a bad-paper day as he searched for the correct document.
Following another procession, this time to the parish church, the whole party returned to the antechamber for a welcome celebratory glass. Replicas of the famous pennies (165 of them new-minted in 1951 to mark the Festival of Britain) were heated and poured out to the waiting children below, perhaps a questionable social image for today, and then another adjournment with all being invited to the Tiling Green Community Centre for further celebrations. It was a day in the life of Rye.
Photos Linden Thomas and Ray Prewer