New Civic Silver Display at Guildhall

One of Winchester City's four silver gilt ceremonial maces will be on display at the Guildhall for the next three months.

The City of Winchester's maces all have a role in civic proceedings. The largest, or Great Mace, is about 1.6 metres long, second only in size to Oxford's, and is regularly used by the city council.

It is placed before the Mayor at all full council meetings and it is paraded along with the three smaller maces at civic events such as Remembrance Sunday.

The three smaller maces are used less frequently but for three months one of them, itself 83cms long, can be viewed in the display case outside the Guildhall Gallery.

Councillor Patricia Stallard, portfolio holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport said: "The maces are very popular items of civic silver which are viewed with pride. The councillors are delighted that the public have the opportunity to view one of them."

Maces were originally a weapon on the medieval battlefield but as heavy armour became ineffectual the maces took on a ceremonial role and were born by a King's sergeant-at-arms.

By the 16th century, city authorities had adopted the mace as a representation of civic power and the former bludgeoning end of the mace had shrunk whilst the end that held the royal insignia had grown - so reversing the prominence of the weapon.

The mace can be seen during Guildhall opening hours (Mon-Sat 8am-6pm or Sun 9am-5pm) until April 30, 2007.