Making the Mayor

Connected with the election of a new Mayor in High Wycombe are the customs of ‘tolling out’ and ‘weighing-in’. The former, which ceased with the Municipal Corporation Act, arose from the behaviour of Mr. Henry Shepard in 1678 who was reported as being drunk and misbehaving himself. It was decreed that the great Bell should be rung out in testimony of his misdemeanours. So according to this ancient custom the Mayor was ‘tolled out’ by tolling the great bell on the morning of the Mayor’s election. The party then proceeded in state to Church, and afterwards a drummer who continued to drum the old Mayor out preceded the procession. A drummer precedes the annual Civic Procession and the bells of All Saints’ Parish Church ring to this day. The unique ‘ weighing-in’ ceremony used to take place in the bar Iron Warehouse in White Hart Street but now begins at about 10.30 in Frogmoor after the election of the New Mayor at the Annual General Meeting of the Charter Trustees.

The photo above shows a new Mayor seated on scales for the weighing ceremony surrounded by the Mace-Bearer, Beadle and Town Crier. Roy Bagley was awarded a Mayor’s Medal for 20 years service as Mace-Bearer in 2017. Outside London High Wycombe is one of few towns to have a trio of officers.

Remembrance Sunday

The annual Remembrance Sunday Parade and service in High Wycombe is arranged by the Mayor’s office and the Mayor, along with an Air Officer for Royal Air Force High Wycombe, takes the salute shortly before 11 a.m. outside Iceland in the High Street prior to the laying of wreaths at the War Memorial outside All Saints’ Church.

Festival of Carols

On the second Sunday of December at 5.30pm the Mayor and Charter Trustees present an annual celebration of Christmas with local choirs, schools and bands performing Christmas carols in All Saints’ Parish Church. Tickets are available from this office from the second week in November. We welcome new choirs or performers who wish to participate.

Freedom parades

7 Battalion The Rifles (formerly The Royal Green Jackets) and the Royal Air Force have both been granted Freedom of the Town and every four years they are entitled to hold a Freedom Parade when they have ‘the title, privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of our loyal and ancient Borough of High Wycombe on all ceremonial occasions with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, bands and bugles playing and colours flying.’

Beating the Bounds

Beating the Bounds is an annual custom which had died out in the 1920s. It was revived to commemorate the town’s 700th mayoral anniversary and Mayor Frances Alexander re-introduced it during her year of office in 1998-99. Throughout the country Beating the Bounds is traditionally held on Rogation Sunday but that often falls too close to Mayor-Making and the Mayor decides when to uphold the tradition, usually after a Civic Service. Marker stones have been placed at the site of most of the boundary stones. Historically, Beating the Bounds was carried out to mark the boundary of the town, to bless the crops in the fields and to bring people together in a spirit of friendship. One aspect of the tradition unique to High Wycombe is the ‘bumping box’, a small wooden box kept in the Mayor’s parlour and used to bump boys on at the marker stones.