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History of the Mayoralty

Government of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells

On 1 April 1974 the Tunbridge Wells District Council became the local authority responsible for the areas previously administered by the Cranbrook Rural District Council, Tonbridge Rural District Council (except the Parishes of Hadlow and Hildenborough), Royal Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Southborough Urban District Council.

On 20 December 1974 borough status was conferred on the district which thus became the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. Reference was also made at that time to the Letters Patent which had been granted on the application of the Charter Trustees for the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells re-authorising the style ‘Royal’ to prefix the name of the town.

Royal Tunbridge Wells is twinned with Wiesbaden, Germany.

Corporate priorities

A prosperous borough: We expect to achieve growth and shape our local economy by enhancing the built environment within our thriving town centres and rural settlements.

A green borough: We expect the borough to remain a clean and beautiful place to live, work and visit, as a result of the continued effort put in to protect the quality of the local environment.

A confident borough: We expect the borough to remain a safe place to live, work and visit where communities enjoy good health, are adequately housed and resilient to deal with the challenges they may encounter.

The Armorial Bearings

The Earl Marshall’s warrant of 2nd April 1976, sealed by the Kings of Arms, granted armorial bearings to the new borough. Composed by Somerset Herald (with assistance from Mr H F F and Councillor Mrs M B Streeten), every detail of the blazon signifies some aspect of the four earlier authorities.

The Blazon: Arms ‘Or on a Pile Vert a Fountain charged with a Saxon Crown Or in base a Bine of Hops leaved and fructed and a Sprig of Apple leaved and flowered in saltire proper’. Crest ‘On a Wreath Or and Gules Issuant from a Stone Well-Head a Ram’s Head proper’. Supporters ‘On the dexter a Demoiselle Crane proper & on the sinister a Horse Argent each gorged with a Collar gobony Or and Gules upon a Compartment of Sandstone Rocks proper’.

The pile represents the geological fault giving rise to local springs. The fountain denotes Tunbridge Wells. The saxon crown marks the renewal of the 1909 privilege of designating the town (but not the Borough) Royal Tunbridge Wells. The hop bine and apple blossom symbolize the rural areas of the Borough.
The ram’s head derives from the Southborough arms, and the well-head from the former Tunbridge Wells crest.

The crane was used by Cranbrook Rural District and the silver horse by the Tonbridge Rural areas. Collars were required on the supporters as an ‘heraldic difference’. The compartment upon which the supporters stand reflects the characteristic rock outcrops of the area.

The mantling and the motto ‘Do Well Doubt Not’ are taken from the bearings of the old Borough of Tunbridge Wells.

The Armorial Bearings were granted for the exclusive use of the borough and they cannot be alienated. Accompanying them there is a heraldic badge, wreathed with fifteen hop leaves representing the Parishes and Southborough.

The Tunbridge Wells Mace

The Mace, in its form and decoration, symbolizes both the office of Mayor and the history and character of the Borough. Made of silver gilt by T and J Bragg of Birmingham in 1891, the Mace is 3 feet 81/2 inches long, and has a weight of 7lbs. It was a gift from Alderman Hori Pink and Philip Jackson on 7 October 1891.

Mayors and Maces

The derivation of the title Mayor – from the Latin maior and the French maire – may point to its origins, and the position of the Mayor as the first citizen suggests links with the Anglo-Saxon ealdorman (later Alderman) – the local elders from amongst whom one would emerge as the greatest.

The Mayoral Chain

The Chain, supplied in 18ct gold by Payne and Son of Tunbridge Wells and donated in 1889 by the first Mayor, has twenty-three links; five enamelled with the Arms of England, Kent, Sussex (pre–1972), the see of Canterbury, and the rose of England, and eighteen formed by the monogram TW. In the centre is the crest of the former Borough, from which is suspended the Badge.

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