Mayor’s chain of office tradition explained

COMMUNITY radio listeners were given a history lesson when they tuned into an interview with the Mayor of South Tyneside.

The history of the borough’s chains of office, being worn this year by Coun Fay Cunningham, were outlined as part of an exhibition of a range of treasures from the North at Bede’s World in Jarrow.

The exhibition was opened by the Mayor, and she spoke about the history of the mayoral chains during a radio interview by a team from the museum.

The chains date back to 1850, when they were presented by the ladies of the town to its first mayor, John Clay.

He was also given the first medallion to be hung on the chain. The second medallion was added in 1900.

Coun Cunningham said: “When you wear the chains, you are representing the borough, with the only people taking precedence over you being the Queen or lord-lieutenant of Tyne and Wear.

“I don’t think anything could enhance the beauty of them.”

The chains were made to fit men as, at the time, it was not envisaged that a woman would ever become the Mayor.

The interview was carried out as part of the Banners of the North exhibition, which features an array of medieval treasures on loan from the British Museum showing how the region changed following the Norman conquest of 1066.

The exhibition is open to the public throughout the summer. The interview will be aired on the museum’s radio station next month.

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