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WEIGHING THE MAYOR

 

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The curious tradition of weighing the mayor: Kathleen Peatey is weighed in as mayor in 1985 while the mace bearer calls out her weight

Weighing the mayor at the start of his or term of office and again at the end is a custom unique to High Wycombe. It is thought the tradition started to ensure the mayor and other officials did not "live off the fat of the land" at the expense of the ratepayers, though no one is certain. 

The ceremony used to take place in White Hart Street and was a very colourful affair with a procession from the church during which the citizens of the town threw flowers along the route and a drummer led the way. It is still a big occasion in town though not quite so colourful. 

The weighing is held in the High Street on huge scales and various dignitaries are weighed in addition to the councillors. It is traditional for the crowd to jeer when the person is declared to weigh so many pounds "and some more" and for the crowd to cheer if it is "and no more". However, I can reveal one secret. 

The mayor rarely gains weight during his or her term of office - at the start of the year the mayor is weighed with the chain and all the regalia, but at the end of the year no longer wears the chain and regalia (it being worn by the new mayor)! 

The ceremony is held on a different date each year but usually towards the end of May. Contact Wycombe District Council to find out the date and time. The tradition has now been copied by a few towns in other countries. 

See a clip from British Pathe of the Weighing of the Mayor in HIgh Wycombe in 1937...

WEIGHING IN THE MAYOR