Historic office of Sergeant at Mace restored to Seaford

Town crier and sergeant at arms Peter White (far left).
Town crier and sergeant at arms Peter White (far left).

A traditional office of Sergeant at Mace has been restored to Seaford.

Town crier Peter White has been selected to take up the historic role.

At a ceremony to award The Freedom of the Town of Seaford to Laurie Holland and Don Mabey, Peter accompanied the mayor of Seaford Linda Wallraven carrying the traditional Mace.

Cllr Wallraven was the first mayor to be accompanied by the historic Elizabethan Mace since the Borough of Seaford lost its status in 1883.

Then the mayor was known as The Bailiff, and councillors were called Jurats.

That is because Seaford had been part of the Cinque Port of Hastings for centuries.

The mace has been on display at council meetings since Seaford had its town status restored in 1999, but had not been used to accompany the mayor for 130 years.

At Seaford Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday October 24, councillors decided to restore the office.

The uniform Peter wears is a faithful recreation of that of the Sergeant at Mace, since the exact pattern of the Town Criers’s uniform is unknown.

The Sergeant at Mace from 1865 to 1901, was William Woolgar, who took over the post of Town Crier from his brother.

It is his uniform, recreated by Golding’s, one of the Queen’s warranted tailors, that Peter wears.

So fortunately the dual appointment as Crier and Sergeant doesn’t create any need for a change of uniform.

The mace will still be in pride of place at council meetings, but can now also be carried at council and mayoral functions, such as Royal visits and civic church Services.

Peter, who is a former history teacher, said: “The history behind the roles or town crier and sergeant at mace are absolutely fascinating.

“As the town’s lock-up, formerly beneath the Old Town Hall, now forms part of that building and the public conveniences next-door, it is unlikely that the town Sergeant will be called upon to lock anyone up!

“The appointment gives added dignity and gravitas to the town, the council, and its mayor.

“It is a link with its civic history. The town council doesn’t indulge in ermine robes and cocked hats like some councils, so it provides a little ceremony, at minimal cost, for a very historic town.”