The bare bones of what happens at the Mayor Making ceremony (more properly called the Annual Meeting of the Council) are set out in law - particularly the requirement for the election of the Mayor to be the first item on the agenda. But every council does it differently. Some will just elect their Mayor (or Chairman) at the start of an ordinary meeting and then carry on with the normal business of the meeting. Others, like Dorchester, make more of it.
Dorchester has been the county town since at least 1305 and has elected a Mayor since 1629. We are very proud of our civic history and heritage and the Mayor of Dorchester is a significant figure within the social and cultural life of the town.
The Mayor Making ceremony is one of a relatively small number of occasions each year when the Council parades with full insignia. The maces are carried by two mace bearers with tricorn hats and gold trimmed capes, the Mayor, Councillors, Town Clerk and Mayor's Chaplain all wear their robes (the purple robes, which were worn by aldermen until 1974, are now worn by the six longest-serving councillors) and the Beadle brings up the rear.
When the Mayor has been elected the new Mayor receives the robe and chain of office from the previous Mayor who automatically becomes Deputy Mayor. The Mayoress or Mayor's Escort receive their insignia and the new Mayor's Chaplain takes over the Chaplain's gown.
The new Mayor makes a speech outlining what they think are the special things about Dorchester and the way in which they intend to carry out their mayoral duties. The outgoing Mayor also makes a speech reviewing the highlights of their year in office and the meeting always ends with a prayer.
No other business is done and the meeting is followed by a reception for county and district dignitaries, mayors from other towns within Dorset and the Mayor's guests. We come back on the following evening to do the Council's normal business.
Dorchester has a long tradition of wearing civic insignia. The photograph below was taken in the Corn Exchange and shows the Corporation (as the Borough Council was sometimes known) in 1935. The councillors and the Town Clerk are dressed more or less as they do today, but with other officers wearing a wide variety of ceremonial attire or none at all!