East Retford

Leaving Blyth about 4 p.m. and journeying on to Retford the members sat down to tea in the Town Hall, by kind permission of the Mayor, Mr. Alfred Pegler, and votes of thanks were passed to Lord Hawkesbury, Mr. Stevenson, the Rev. H.T. Slodden, the Rev. C. E. Scott-Moncrieff, Canon Ebsworth, and the Mayor for their kind help and guidance, and the Secretaries were cordially thanked for the excellent arrangements they had made.

An opportunity was afterwards afforded the members of inspecting the Corporation plate and regalia, and finally East Retford Church was visited.

We have the privilege of printing for our members the following description of the plate and regalia by Mr. St. John Hope.

EAST RETFORD, an ancient prescriptive borough, received its first charter of definite municipal privileges in 1246. (It was not, however, formally incorporated until 5th James I., when the king granted a charter placing the government in the hands of two bailiffs and twelve aldermen (including the senior bailiff), to whom were added a high steward, town clerk, two chamberlains, two sergeants-at-mace, and other officers.) The town is now governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors.

The insignia consist of two maces, a mayor's chain, and a common seal. The plate includes four silver cups, two silver salts, and six silver spoons.

The great mace, of silver gilt, is 3 feet 113/4 inches long, and a very fine and massive example. It is of the usual late type, surmounted by an arched crown with the orb and cross. The shaft is chased throughout with roses, thistles, lilies, etc., and is divided by bold knots ornamented with acanthus leaves into two main lengths, with a short length carrying three scroll-work brackets just below the head. The foot-knop is large and massive ; it is decorated with acanthus leaves, and terminates in a bunch of grapes. The head is ornamented round the base with bold leafwork, and is divided by acanthus leaves into eight panels containing respectively: (1) a crowned rose and C R; (2) the donor's crest; (3) a crowned thistle and C R; (4) the donor's arms; (5) a crowned fleur-de-lis and C R; (6) the borough arms, circumscribed: "VILLA DE EAST RETFORDE: 1679;" (7) a crowned thistle and C R; (8) on an oval tablet: "Ex dono Edwardi Nevile Milit & Bart de Grove in Comitat'' Nottinghamiae." On the top, under the crown, are the royal arms, etc., of the Stuart sovereigns. The only mark is the maker's, R C in an oval with a crest between two pellets, above and below.

The lesser mace, also of silver gilt, is 2 feet 4f inches long, and a most interesting example of a Commonwealth mace altered at the Restoration. It consists of a plain shaft divided into four lengths by simple knots. This is surmounted by a mace-head, which is divided by caryatides into three panels now containing: (1) a shield of St. George, for England; (2) a crowned rose between the initials C R ; (3) the royal arms within the garter and crowned, with C R. Each device is flanked by characteristic palm branches, and is fastened to the head by rivets. The head is crested with the curious non-regal Commonwealth coronet formed of a looped cable enclosing cartouches with the arms of England and Ireland. From this rise the jewelled arches of a royal crown supporting the orb and cross, under which, on top of the mace, are engraved the royal arms, etc., of Charles II. With the exception of the rose and royal arms round the head, and the added crown and engraved arms on top, this is an unaltered Commonwealth mace, probably made by Thomas Maundy. It, however, bears no hall-marks. The "State's Arms" were originally rivetted on top. This mace is said to have been given to the town by Sir Gervase Clifton, Bart., who was high steward from 1616 till his death, in 1666.

The mayor's chain and badge were given to the town in 1879 by F. J. S. Foljambe, Esq., M.P., first lord high steward of the extended borough. The chain is of gold, and consists (1) of a series of shields with the names of successive mayors since 1879, coupled by ornate monograms formed of the letters E R, for "East Retford;" and (2) of a number of large oblong links, to be replaced from time to time by shields with the names of the mayors. The badge represents the borough seal, in enamel, within two wreaths of oak and laurel; and is suspended from the chain by a gold rose. The chain and badge were made by Messrs. Bragg.

The oldest of the four cups is a silver-gilt hanap, 121/2 inches high, of the same pattern as the great St. Ives cup, but lacking a cover. It is inscribed: "Ex dono Gervacij Clifton miliitis et Baronet. Capitall Senescal. Villae de East retford in Com: Nott. Ano Dom: 1620."

Next in point of date are a pair of silver cups with conical bowls and baluster stems, each 5J inches high. They are inscribed: "Ex dono Gervafii Clifton miliitis et Barronetti." Hall-marks, London, 1634-5; maker's mark, F R with a pellet above and below, in a lozenge.

The fourth cup is a large urn-shaped vessel with handles, and cover surmounted by a mulberry. The body has its lower part gadrooned, and is engraved on one side with the donor's arms, and on the other with the borough device and the inscription: "The Gift / of The Earl of LINCOLN/ REPRESENTATIVE / of the BOROUGH of East RETFORD 1783." The cup itself measures 121 inches in height, but with its cover 19 inches. The diameter of the bowl is 7 inches. Hall-marks: London, 1782-3; maker's mark, W H for William Holmes.

The pair of silver salts are flat, and triangular in shape, each side being 3 inches long. Round the edges is the same inscription as on the pair of cups, but there are no hall-marks.

The common seal is of very ancient date and interesting character. It is circular, 13/4 inch in diameter, and bears for device two eagles or falcons combatant. Legend:

Istvc : Sicillv De :  Este ; Rettfvrthe."

This seal is of the twelfth or early thirteenth century date. On the incorporation of the borough by James I., a common hall was held on April 14th, 1608, for the purpose of agreeing upon a common seal according to his majesty's patent. Fortunately, "it was then agreed that the ancient seal heretofore used for that purpose (being the two falcons), shall and may again from henceforth be, stand, and remain, as their common seal to serve for the use of the Burgesses of the Town."

The bailiffs and aldermen under the old Corporation had each an official "own of purple cloth edged with fur, in which they appeared when they went to church in state four times a year. There are, however, now no official robes.