About The Mayoral Role
ABOUT THE MAYORAL ROLE
The Mayor is the head of the City Council and the First Citizen of the City of Wells. He or she chairs meetings of the full Council and performs ceremonial civic duties, representing the Council at social and ceremonial events. The Mayor supports a broad spectrum of local organisations and acts as an ambassador for the city, undertaking about 150 formal engagements during the year. Whether a man or a woman, the holder of the post is referred to as 'Mr Mayor' and the Mayor may appoint a Mayoress or a Consort to accompany him to civic events.
This very ancient post, which is held for one year at a time, has existed in Wells since medieval times (though not always under this name). It is an office of great honour, and the Mayor is bound by a solemn oath to fulfil the obligations of his or her office. He or she is elected to office by fellow councillors.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE MAYORS OF WELLS
- The head of the Council has not always been called by the title 'Mayor'. This title dates from 1589, when the borough of Wells was incorporated by Royal Charter granted by Elizabeth I. Older terms for this office were 'Master', 'Warden' and 'Seneschal' (which means steward).
- The first woman to be Mayor of Wells was Alderman Mrs F Melrose in 1954.
- The record-breaking Alderman J G Everett was Mayor of Wells an incredible 13 times (between 1855 and 1887)! He was a local grocer and draper. His record is closely followed by that of Councillor Clement Tudway, who held the post 11 times (between 1763 and 1808) (as well as sitting as a Wells MP from 1760 to 1815 and becoming Father of the House).
- Wells City Archives contains a ‘Book of Mayors’ which was compiled in 1857 by the Town Clerk Thomas Serel and is kept in a special leather satchel. It lists each Mayor by year, starting with 1378 (the date of the first recorded appointment). From 1857 onwards, each new Mayor has signed their own name in it. It is still used each year at the Mayor Making ceremony.
- The annual ceremony of appointing a Mayor is known as ‘Mayor Making’ and in Wells it is rich with tradition, although it varies slightly according to the wishes of the individual Mayor. It takes place at Wells Town Hall. Elements which are always present include a procession of Councillors in full ceremonial robes (the four longest-serving in red robes, the rest in black), the display and parading of the civic insignia (such as the two elaborate silver-gilt seventeenth-century maces), and the Mayor taking his or her oath on the Wells Corporation Bible (which was presented to the Corporation by the then Bishop of Bath and Wells Peter Mews in the 1670s). A more recent tradition, begun by Mayor Ernest Wright just over 30 years ago, is the presentation of a gift to the incoming Mayor by the incoming Deputy Mayor. At first this was fish, then it was meat, and now it can be cheese. Another recent tradition is that the Town Crier proclaims the new Mayor from the balcony of Wells Town Hall.
- Two married couples have each been Mayor of Wells: Alan Hague in 1993 & Jean Hague in 2002 and Russell Stiles in 1971 & Christine Stiles in 1977
- Because Wells is a city, the Mayor of Wells is formally referred to as “The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Wells”, rather than just “The Worshipful the Mayor”.