On the 29th of September each year (Michaelmas Day) the Liverymen of the City of London elect a new Lord Mayor. This year Alderman Peter Eslin was elected and became the 691st Lord Mayor of London. On the Friday before the second Sunday in November the new Lord Mayor was sworn into office, at the Guildhall, at a ceremony known as Silent because, apart from the vow of the incoming Lord Mayor, it is held in total silence. Silence that is apart from the heavy tread of the officers as they process in and out of the Guildhall.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Aldermen, the City officers, Masters of Livery Companies and hundreds of their fellow Liverymen. It was as rich in pageantry as it is ancient in history and though it only lasted some twenty minutes or so it was a great piece of theatre. It started with the procession into the hall of The Lord Mayor’s and Sheriffs’ Committee followed by the other City Officials, then the Aldermen, and finally the Lord Mayor Elect, the City Marshal, The Lord Mayor’s Chaplain and the outgoing Lord Mayor, the Rt Hon Charles Bowman.
The Lord Mayor-Elect, Alderman Peter Eslin, swore his oath of office. The outgoing Lord Mayor then moved to his left and summoned the incoming Lord Mayor to his seat. The new Lord Mayor then donned his tricorne hat and exactly simultaneously the newly late Lord Mayor removed his, thus symbolising the transfer of power. The officers then took it in turn to present their symbols of office, the Sceptre, Seal, Purse, Sword, Mace, Collar of Esses and Badge, each one taking three steps forward, then bowing, then presenting the symbol. The new Lord Mayor touched each one in turn and then the officer took the symbol and walked backwards, bowing, essentially reversing the process. Then the incoming Lord Mayor undertook to safeguard the silver and furniture at Mansion House, signing for the “plate”.
All this was watched by the huge audience in reverential silence. Both power and responsibility had been smoothly transferred. The verbosity of endless speeches of congratulation was unnecessary. Congratulations were offered but just with handshakes and smiles, but still all in silence. The processions then went out in reverse order, with the new Lord Mayor triumphantly in the lead.
He and the Lady Mayoress then took the Mayoral limousine to their new home for a year, the largest council house in London, Mansion House. Before they departed the Swordbearer removed his fur hat and took out the key to the seal of Christ’s hospital and handed it to the outgoing Lord Mayor, who passed it to the new Lord Mayor, who returned it to the Swordbearer, who promised to “keep it under his hat
Carole Denford with David Pearson, Past Master, Worshipful Company of Marketers