Rye Town Council

Civic Ceremony


If there is one thing we do really well, this is it. We’ve had a lot of practice – over 700 years! Rye’s Mayoralty can be traced back to at least 1289 when Henry de Rakele served as Mayor during the reign of Edward I. The first Town Clerk, Peter De Heghtone was appointed 11 years later in 1300.

Rye’s civic history is linked inextricably with its membership of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports. Long before England raised its own Royal Navy, the towns which became known as the ‘Cinque Ports’ – Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover, Sandwich, Rye and Winchelsea – harboured ships and men who guarded the King and country from frequent and vicious attacks.

Meetings of the Confederation are presided over by the Speaker and the mayors of the seven ports take it in turns to hold office. Communication between the Monarch and the Ports is the responsibility of the Lord Warden, Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle, currently The Admiral the Lord Boyce.

Rye’s proud civic tradition remains vibrant to this day and still occupies a prominent place in the life of both the Council and the town.

Robes are still worn – and maces carried – at full meetings of the Council. Rye is unique amongst the members of the Cinque Ports in that it has two pairs of maces – Elizabethan and Georgian. Exact replicas of the latter are carried and displayed in the Canadian Parliament.

Throughout the year the Mayor, Town Clerk and Councillors will don full regalia – including white gloves and hats (bicorns for men; tricorns for women) – for civic occasions – typically to mark/commemorate:

St George’s Day April
Mayor Making May
Remembrance Sunday  November

The Mayoralty is supported by a team comprising the Town Clerk, Mayor’s Secretary, Town Sergeant, Second Mace Bearer and Seamstress. At the annual Mayor Making ceremony, the Mayor, Clerk and Sergeant are asked to swear oaths of allegiance to the Monarch, town and its inhabitants.

And, of course, no self-respecting historic town would be complete without a Town Crier!