Bideford’s Civic Officers

Bideford’s Civic Officers

On the evening of May 17th 2001 the Mayor election ceremony took place at Bideford Town Hall. The Bideford Town Council chose as their leader and Mayor for the ensuing year Mrs Annie Brenton. Her husband Mr David Brenton will be her Consort, and the Deputy Mayor is Mr Andrew Smith.

Mr George B McLauchlan is the Town Clerk of Bideford, and there are fifteen councillors on the Town Council, representing the three wards in the town.

Bideford has three traditional civic officers, the positions having centuries old backgrounds.

The Town Crier – Mr Jim Weeks of Hallsannery.

He is required as the title implies to make announcements relating to the town. The ringing of his bell and the traditional call of Oyez, Oyez, Oyez is still listened to with interest by those who treasure ancient customs. He is a conspicuous character in his smart uniform and cocked hat.

The Town Beadle – Mr Eddie Adams of Londonderry.

Bideford held this position for eighteen years, but at the ceremony in May he took his retirement. The new Beadle for Bideford is Mr Geoff Fuller of Clovelly. This town officer position has historic origins, and in former centuries he was called the ‘beadman’ or ‘constable’. The Beadle is required to accompany the Mayor when he or she wears the full chain of office on civic occasions.

The Mace Bearer – Mr Mike Davy.

The mace is the emblem of the power and dignity of the Mayor, and of his or her authority. The office of Mace Bearer also has a history and the position was formerly known as ‘Sergeant at Mace’. As the title implies the officer carries the Mace before the Mayor. The Town of Bideford has four maces – two greater and two lesser. Accordingly in civic processions two are carried by the Beadle and two by the Macebearer. The Beadle and Macebearer wear the traditional gown and tricorn hat on such occasions.

The Bideford maces are of great historic importance and value – the two ‘lesser’ maces dating from 1573 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I – and the two ‘greater’ maces dating from 1650 during the reign of Charles I.

Conducted tours of the Town Hall, Council Chamber and Mayor’s Parlour are possible, and such visits should be arranged by letter to the Town Clerk of Bideford. The many historic treasures of this town are there for all to see.

Mike Davy

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