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The first Mayor in 1216 was Roger Cordewaner; the last Mayor was Herbert Ashman in 1898. The names of all the mayors of Bristol are engraved into the walls of the Conference Room of The Council House, Bristol.
In 1899, Queen Victoria granted a Lord Mayoralty to Bristol, and during her visit to the city in that year, she knighted Herbert Ashman, who then served for a second year, this time as the first Lord Mayor. Ever since 1899, Bristol has had a Lord Mayor.
After being chosen, a Mayor serves for one year. The history of Mayors in Bristol shows that some people have held the position a number of times, such as John Kerle Haberfield, who served six times between 1837 and 1850.
The first woman Lord Mayor was Alderman Mrs Florence Brown in 1963-64.
The late Councillor Jim Williams had the honour of being Bristol's first black Lord Mayor in 1990.
The red robes, feathered hat and gauntlets have their origins in medieval times. The scarlet is a royal colour and was worn as early as 1415 to denote authority from the King - the more fur on the robe, the greater the authority. The hat is a black-feathered tricorn. On occasions the Lord Mayor is expected to wear Velvets and a dress sword. This tradition dates from three centuries ago when it was the correct dress for men of distinction appearing at Court. Today, of all the Mayors and Lord Mayors in the United Kingdom, only the Lord Mayors of London and Bristol are entitled to wear them.
The main symbol of authority of the Lord Mayor. In 1828, the chain then worn by the Mayor was not considered good enough and it was melted down and the city received £50 for it. The replacement chain which is now worn was made at a cost of £288.83, which included the morocco leather case.
It is 155 centimetres (61 inches) long and is of 23 carat gold. The weight of the chain is 1.13 kilograms (2 1b 8 oz).
Until 1926, the Lord Mayoress had no badge of office. In that year, the Lady Mayoress' chain was purchased and presented to the city by the Ladies of Bristol, who had contributed to a fund on the basis of a shilling a head.
The badge is in fine enamel and the gemstones surrounding it are diamonds and sapphires.
The City and County of Bristol has four swords:
- the Mourning Sword, dating from 1373, the year in which Edward III made Bristol a county, is now only used for Royal Memorial Services or similar occasions;
- the Pearl Sword, dating from 1431;
- the Lent Sword, circa 1459, so called because it was carried before the Judges at the Lent Assizes;
- the State Sword, 1752, which is placed in a rest behind and above the Lord Mayor at council meetings
Other important parts of our civic insignia include eight silver maces from the 18th century and four silver chains of the City Waits (musicians), which were purchased in the reign of Mary I, and bear her Tudor Badge.
During Doors Open Day in September, the tour of The Council House includes The Lord Mayor's Parlour and the Civic Insignia.
Bristol is the only city outside London to have a State Coach. The earliest mention of the city's desire to have such a vehicle was in 1733, but it was not until 1751 that this was achieved. All three vehicles (State Coach, Landau and Proclamation Brake) were built by the well-known Bristol form of Fullers at their works in St. George's Road on a site behind the present Council House. The state Coach dates from the 1860s, but has been much rebuilt during its life, and the Landau from the turn of the century.
The Proclamation Brake was originally built as a practice vehicle for Sir George White, the founder of the aerospace industry at Filton and the Bristol tramways as well as being a major local philanthropist. The White family home was originally at Cotham House and later at Hollywood House, Cribbs Causeway. The vehicle was acquired by the city council soon after the Second World War. It is known as the 'Proclamation Brake' due to the tradition of the Lord Mayor and Town Clerk, accompanied by City Swordbearer and Mace Escort, proclaiming the crowning of a new sovereign from such a vehicle at various points in the central area of the city.
The Proclamation Brake can be seen in the Industrial Museum on the harbourside.
The Lord Mayor's Chapel (St Mark's) is the only municipally-owned church in the country. It originally served the Hospital of the Gaunts, an almonry founded about 1220 by Maurice de Gaunt, a cousin of Thomas, Lord Berkeley. The hospital was surrendered at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and in 1541 the Corporation purchased most of the lands that formerly belonged to it. In 1722 the Chapel became the official place of worship of the Mayor and Corporation, and has remained so ever since.
The Lord Mayor's chapel is normally open to the public Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 12noon and 1pm - 4pm. Please note, that due to illness, the chapel will not always be open at these times. Please call the Lord Mayor's office on 0117 903 1450 for more information.
The Mansion House was the gift to the city of Alderman Thomas Proctor in 1874. The house was designed by George and Henry Godwin in 1867 and originally named 'Elmdale'. It is in fact the third Mansion House, the original building in Queen Square was destroyed in the Bristol Riots of 1831. Although replaced by a second house in Great George Street, this was closed in 1835 under the drastic economies forced on the city council by the Municipal Corporations Act. For many years the Mansion House was not only the home of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, but also the lodgings of the High Court Judges.
It offers Private Function Rooms for:
- Business meetings