Traditional regalia

Find out about the pieces of traditional regalia of Canterbury and their history.

The burghmote horn

The burghmote horn is the oldest piece of civic regalia in Canterbury. It was used as far back as 1155, in the reign of Henry II, to summon the bailiffs of the city to the court of the citizens – known as the burghmote. Today it is used at special ceremonial events such as mayor-making or when a new sovereign is proclaimed.

The city arms

Canterbury’s coat of arms is medieval in origin and appeared on official documents dating back to 1380. The coat of arms depicts a heraldic leopard (signifying Canterbury’s royal status) and three black choughs taken from the arms of Thomas Becket.

The coat of arms reads: 'Argent Three Cornish Choughs Two and one Sable Beaked and Legged Gules on a Chief of the Last a Leopard Passant Gardant Or'.


The Lord Mayor’s ceremonial robe is made from damask with gold wire trim and ornaments. It is worn with white gloves, a lace jabot at the neck and lace cuffs. The hat is a tricorn with a gold loop and decorated with ostrich feathers.

The Sheriff also wears fine ceremonial robes. In addition the Sheriff carries a white rod (rood) decorated at each end with silver and the city crest.

The sword and mace

A Royal Charter granted in 1609, the right to appoint a sword bearer to the city was conferred. This was a great privilege as it symbolised authority normally reserved for monarchs. The sword was made at the order of Thomas Paramore and cost ten pounds and six shillings. The inscription read the sword was “to be borne before (the Mayor) and all others that shall succeed him”.

The present mace dates from 1681 and replaced a smaller silver mace. Although originally used as weapons, civic maces became symbols of royal authority. The mace was carried before the Mayor or the Bailiff wherever their authority extended. It is customary to invert the mace in the presence of the Monarch or her immediate family representative.