Mace, chain and robes

Mace, chain and robes

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An online exhibition of the Sydney Town Hall Collection - treasures illustrating Sydney's ciivic history.

Links in the Chain


In 1992 the Friends of Sydney Town Hall commissioned a mace to commemorate the City of Sydney's 150 year anniversary.

A mace is a close-quarters weapon that was favoured in medieval times. Originally, it became a symbol of royal authority and protection and is now a ceremonial item for many councils. Sydney's version was made by South Australian silversmith John Hale and features some of the architectural icons of Sydney and motifs relating to the role of the Council.

Mace close-up Mace close-up


Mayoral chains of office became popular during Queen Victoria's reign. In 1902 the Sydney Chamber of Commerce initiated the first link of a civic chain. In the following year the Governor of NSW, Sir Harry Rawson, presented Sydney's first Lord Mayor Thomes Hughes with the chain of office. The chain comprised gold and enamel medallions featuring the coat of arms of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce and the Stock Exchange, and a pendant depicting the City's coat of arms. Former and successive mayors contributed a small gold medallion where their terms of office were embossed . By 1945 this practice was discontinued because of the size and weight of the chain. Today, the chain is worn with the robes of office on rare civic occasions, with a smaller collar used for most formal civic duties.

Mayoral chain Mayoral chain


Civic robes date to medieval England when mayors were responsible for law and order within their cities. As magistrates, mayors assumed the traditional judicial dress as a symbol of authority. The original mayoral robe in 1842 was purple, trimmed with ermine and a court dress hat. Mayors also wore a jabot or neck ruffle and white gloves. The robes worn today by the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor are black and those of the Councillors are blue. They are worn rarely and only at major civic functions.

Mayor Harding Portrait of Mayor Harding, 1945 wearing the civic robes and chain of office

Last updated: Tuesday, 5 May 2015