Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


The chain of the Mayors/Lord Mayors of Oxford

1884 to the present


Mayoral chain in 2021

The chain and its pendant was presented to the City in 1884 by six-times-Mayor of Oxford James Hughes (co-founder of the Oxford grocery shop Grimbly Hughes), and it is is still worn by the Lord Mayor today.

The chain, which is three feet long, has the letters of the word Oxenford alternating with enamelled Tudor roses, with OXEN running down from the Mayor's right shoulder and FORD running up to his left shoulder. (Hence only the N and F appear in the photograph above: they are in the fourteenth-century style and hence quite hard to read).

The front of the pendant has the Oxford coat-of-arms, showing an ox fording a river. The bearers are an elephant (representing Sir Francis Knollys, High Steward of the City, Lord Lieutenant, and MP for the County) and a beaver (representing Henry Norreys of Rycote, Captain of the City Militia and MP for the County). On top above the helmet is a unique crest granted to the city by Queen Elizabeth I of a lion with a royal crown holding the Tudor Rose in its paws. The Latin motto “Fortis est Veritas” means “The truth is strong”.

The back of the pendant (which is partially obscured by the strong hook which clips it to the chain) reads:

To the Corporation of the

City of Oxford
Alderman James Hughes
Justice of the Peace.
In his third Mayoralty

1883 & 4.

The chain and badge were designed by Gaorge Harris, a Blue Coat boy of the firm Rowell & Harris of 115 High Street, Oxford, and their description of it was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 29 March 1884:

The old English name of the City, Oxenford, has been utilised in the form of links, the letters being of fourteenth century character, carefully executed, from an old plaster casting. Between each letter is introduced an early Tudor rose, beautifully enamelled in proper heraldic colours, and these roses, which are of 22-carat gold, are jointed to the letters by massive solid 18-carat gold links, the whole forming a magnificent chain 36 inches in length, and containing about 40 ounces of solid 18-carat gold. The badge, which is hexagonal in shape, and five inches in length, is a splendid specimen of the goldsmith's art, and bears in the centre the arms of the City (an ox crossing a ford of water, with the supporters on either side). These are surmounted by the helmet and Crest, and at the sides are introduced the civic emblems, the mace and the sword, while the City motto, "Fortis est veritas," enamelled on a scroll in dark blue letters, occupies the lower part of the badge.


©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 9 November, 2021

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