THE MAYORALTY IN ROMSEY

Background

Photo of Mike Richardson in regalia and Mike Curtis
Mike Richardson, Town Mayor in 2002.
Here in full regalia with Mike Curtis as his Deputy, who became the Mayor of Romsey in 2003.

From the 10th Century to the mid 16th century the civic administration was in the hands of the Abbess of Romsey Abbey. She was Lord of the Manors of Romsey Infra (nowadays the town of Romsey) and Romsey Extra (the rural parish which surrounds the town). It is probable that the post of mayor emerged under her auspices.

There seems to have been no clear cut authority in Romsey between the dissolution of the nunnery in 1539 and 1607, when King James the First in 1607 granted a charter to Romsey. This confirmed the civic structure, endorsed the posts of mayor, twelve aldermen and twelve chief burgesses along with a Court recorder, a town clerk and two sergeants-at-mace.

The ancient borough of Romsey became part of Test Valley Borough in the government re-organisation in 1974 and now has the powers of a parish council. Through the influence of Lord Mountbatten who lived at Broadlands, the town retains the right to have a mayor, now titled Town Mayor of Romsey. The Mayor's badge of office bearing Romsey's coat of arms dates from 1875. It superseded the simpler chain with a portcullis badge which is now worn by the Mayoress.

Romsey's Town Mayor in the Twenty First Century.

The Town Mayor, elected from amongst the fifteen Town Councillors each year, has two main roles. Chairman of the Town Council and also 'First Citizen'of Romsey. The day to day running of the Town Hall and the Council's business is managed by the Town Clerk so Councillors are concerned with setting strategies and policies, in a similar role to the non-executive directors. The Mayor's role can be likened to 'Chairman of the Board'. Mayors take a great deal of interest in the work of the Council in addition to their civic duties.

Mayors undertake a number of formal duties each year but also have a wide discretion to develop the role as they wish. Shortly after the Mayor Making in May, the new Mayor attends Divine Service at Romsey Abbey which reinforces the links between the Church and the Civic elements of the town. The Mayor lays a wreath on behalf of the town at the Remembrance Service in November and also takes part in the salute following the British Legion and St George's Day services in the Abbey.

The main roles of the Mayor include:

Welcoming groups of people to Romsey, supporting the many voluntary organisations in the town by attending their meetings, fetes and other fund raising activities, meeting school children and elderly residents. Romsey's residents like to see their Mayor being visible and approachable throughout the year and are very generous with their invitations to the mayor who can undertake up to 250 different events.
Requests include opening fetes, judging Easter bonnets, visiting nursing homes and the hospital, attending the Theatre and concerts, taking part in the Romsey Carnival and supporting the Christmas carol concerts. The local press seem to be present at some of the more unusual events. One recent mayor was photographed strapped to a Fire Brigade stretcher, riding a three wheel bicycle and dancing with a fox in the Market Place!

photo of Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson
Mayor of Romsey 2002

Many thanks to Mike Richardson for the above information.

Romsey Town Mayors 1883 to date (2009)
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