Town Seals & Civic Regalia

Saltash has never had a coat of arms, but has used an official heraldic seal for more than 400 years. Heralds from the College of Arms made official visits to Cornwall in 1573 and in 1620, on both occasions registering not only the armorial bearings of families but also the devices on the seals used by the various Cornish Boroughs. At Saltash the Corporation actually registered two: the seal of the Borough of Saltash, and the seal of the Liberty of the Water Tamar.

The Borough seal is registered as: "Azure the base water proper in pale an escutcheon Or thereon a lion rampant Gules within a bordure Sable bezantée ensigned with a prince's coronet of the third on either side of the escutcheon an ostrich feather Argent labelled Or." (Blue water at the bottom with a gold shield above on a paler blue background; on the shield, a red rampant lion surrounded by a black border decorated with roundels; a prince's coronet above the shield and, on each side of the shield, a silver ostrich feather bearing a small gold scroll.) The shield is based on the arms of the first two Earls of Cornwall, who were lords of Saltash from 1270 to 1300. The ostrich feathers and the coronet are taken from the arms of Edward the Black Prince, the first Duke of Cornwall, and his successors, who were also lords of Saltash.

Successive lords leased to Saltash the rights to various activities such as the running of the ferry, fisheries, oysterage, and collecting dues for anchorage etc in the Tamar and adjoining estuaries. These rights and privileges collectively became known as the Liberty of the Water Tamar and were granted outright to Saltash by Queen Elizabeth I in a 1584 charter, the Borough being given 'Silver Oar' jurisdiction which allowed it to administer water courts and to hold an official seal. This seal depicts a three-masted ship at anchor with sails furled.

The maces, robes, and chains of office used by the Mayor, his or her partner, and the Deputy Mayor are collectively known as the Civic Regalia.

The Mayor's robe is red, trimmed with black velvet and brown fur; the Deputy Mayor has a blue robe also trimmed with black velvet.

The pair of maces currently in use were presented to the town in 1699 by Francis Buller of Shillingham, MP for Saltash in that year. They are of sterling silver, each 43 inches (1100mm) long. At the top of each shaft are three figures supporting a richly ornamented head, on the upper surface of which are the Royal arms and supporters and, above those, crossed silver oars rising out of a regal crown, which makes them unique.

The second pair are also silver, each 20 inches (500mm) long, with the Royal arms engraved on the heads. One is dated 1623, and also bears the initials of Edmund Herring, who was Mayor at that time. The other was obtained during the reign of Charles I (1625-49). Each of this pair has an oar-shaped shaft, symbolizing the Liberty of the Water Tamar. Some other towns which exercised jurisdiction over estuaries have oar-maces, but Saltash's are the oldest in the country.

In addition to the four full-sized maces there is a 7½in (190mm) miniature oar mace bearing the seal of the Borough and the date 1760. Originally carried by the town sergeant as proof of his authority, it is possibly the only mace of its type in existence.

The chain worn by the Mayor of Saltash has 40 shield-shaped links, and all but one are of 18 carat gold. The central shield is a different shape and commemorates the ancient Water Court. Each of the others records the name of a Mayor, except one which records a Town Clerk. The medallion is in the shape of the St John's Cross, engraved with the arms of the Borough.

Saltash is one of the few UK towns to also have a chain specifically for the Mayoress (or the husband of a lady Mayor). It consists of 9 links, each of which depicts an event in the recent (since 1919) history of Saltash, connected to each other by a double chain, and also has a St John's Cross medallion.

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page updated 2016-06-07

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