Mayor FAQs

Why a Mayor ?

At the time of the Norman Conquest, the Sovereign appointed the Chief Magistrates of cities. That of London was called the Port Reeve, but Henry II changed the word to the Norman “Maire” (our term Mayor). King John made the office an annual one. The earliest recorded Mayor of Dover is William FitzGodfrey in 1086.

What are the Duties of the Mayor ?

The Mayoralty provides a vital link with our heritage, and the privileges and duties of the Mayor have reflected the changes in our society throughout history. While no longer having absolute powers, the Mayor is the Chairman of the Town Council and acts in a ceremonial role at local, state and other functions. As the town’s ambassador at large, the Mayor has a full and varied engagement list during the year of office, ranging from support for local charities and their fund raising events, civic parades and school visits, receptions for visitors to Dover, promoting the town and defending its interests locally and nationally, and involvement with all local organisations and all sections of the community.

How is the Mayor Addressed ?

Because Dover is a Cinque Port and has a Town Council, the Mayor of Dover is entitled to the address “The Right Worshipful the Town Mayor of Dover”. The title “Right Worshipful” has its origin in the quaint expression of a “worthy” or person of local importance, and implies honour and dignity to the holder of an office. This title is only used in writing to the Mayor, however. If addressing the Mayor in conversation, then “Mr Mayor” is the correct title and style, whether or not the Mayor is male or female.

What about the Mayor’s Partner ?

A male Mayor appoints his “Mayoress” or “Escort”. By custom, if the Mayor is a woman she will normally appoint her “Consort” or “Escort”.

How does the Mayor Achieve Office ?

Since Dover Town Council was formed in 1996, the appointment of the Town Mayor and the Deputy Town Mayor has been made by the Town Councillors from among their number.

When does the Mayor Assume Office ?

The Statutory Annual Meeting of the Town Council in May each year is used for the Mayor Making ceremony, when the new Town Mayor and Deputy Town Mayor are elected and make their declarations of acceptance of office. It is used as a social occasion in the town, and many local individuals and organisations are invited to attend the ceremony and the subsequent reception. The Statutory Annual Meeting is, however, a normal Town Council meeting in law and members of the public therefore have the right to attend.

Where is Mayor Making held ?

Mayor Making is traditionally held in Dover Town Hall. The Maison Dieu, the oldest of the Town Hall buildings, was founded by Hubert de Burgh, then Constable of Dover Castle in 1203. It was built to provide short-term accommodation for pilgrims travelling to or from the Continent. Over the last 700 years the building has had many owners and has fulfilled many functions, including military store, council chamber, centre of local justice and punishment, and concert hall.

The Mayor Making ceremony is held in the Connaught Hall. This is in fact adjacent to the Maison Dieu and was built between 1881 and 1883 as a meeting and concert hall for the town. The building also contains the old Mayor’s Parlour, Council Chamber and other rooms. All were designed by William Burges, but completed after his death by his partners. The reception following the Mayor Making ceremony is held in the Stone Hall which, with its magnificent pictures, stained glass, Cinque Ports Volunteers Flags, arms and armour, is thought to be the ‘Great Chamber’ built in 1253. The Hall is 124 feet long by 28 feet wide, with four-foot thick walls strengthened by buttresses. The Victorian stained glass windows depict six Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports in scenes from Dover’s past.

Who participates in Mayor Making ?

In addition to the out-going and in-coming Mayors and those Town Councillors able to be present, the following people will also normally participate in the Mayor Making ceremony:

Honorary Recorder:
An office of dignity, the holder is normally a Circuit Judge with some connection to Dover; the Honorary Recorder enjoys precedence in Dover next after the Town Mayor; note the tradition of carrying a nosegay or posy at Mayor Making – the Honorary Recorder will present it to the Mayor after the ceremony;

Honorary Chaplain:
Appointed at each Mayor Making by the new Mayor, the office holder will carry out civic services and similar duties during the year;

Town Clerk:
The paid “Proper Officer” of the Town Council, equivalent to the Chief Executive; also a very ancient office with the earliest recorded reference in the Holy Bible (Acts of the Apostles 19 verse 35); the Dover Town Clerk traditionally wears the wig and gown when the Mayor is robed;

Treasurer:
The Town Council’s paid “Responsible Financial Officer”; the office holder traditionally attends all ceremonies such as Mayor Making;

Town Sergeant:
Fulfils several roles, including Mayor’s Attendant, Mace Bearer, Master of Ceremonies and Mayor’s Chauffeur; the paid office holder will always be present when the Mayor wears the chain of office;

Mayor’s Cadet:
Appointed annually, the Mayor’s Cadet accompanies the Town Mayor at various ceremonies and civic functions.