The mayor's chain and the harpenden coat of arms

The Mayor’s Chain

The Mayor‘s Chain was donated to the Urban District Council in 1953 by a Mr Shadbolt, who was a partner of a firm of solicitors (Tuckey and Shadbolt) upon his retirement from practice to the West Country.  It was officially presented to the then Chairman, Councillor Leslie Edgell, at a civic dinner in 1954 and is now worn by the Town Mayor on civic occasions such as the Civic Service and Remembrance Parade, and when visiting the community at events such as official openings, concerts and school assemblies.

Mr Shadbolt’s retirement coincided with the year of the Coronation (1953), and also the conquering of Mount Everest; this team including two men from Harpenden.  Their names are both to be found on the back of the plate on the chain depicting an enamelled image of Mount Everest. One was from Rothamsted Experimental Station (Michael Westmacott) and the other a Doctor from Hatching Green (Griffith Pugh).

When the maker of the chain produced the proofs, the picture did not depict Everest as it was known, and Mr Pettingale, the then Clerk, drew the correct face, and it is that which can now be seen on the chain.

Mike Westmacott was 27 and had no previous Himalayan experience before undertaking the climb. An ex-President of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club, he was employed to undertake statistical investigation at Rothamsted Experimental Station and worked there from 1951-1958. He was particularly praised for pioneering the route up the Khumbu Icefall, one of the main obstacles to the higher part of the mountain and was responsible for the structural equipment of the expedition (e.g. tents, ladders and bridges). Despite bouts of sickness, he was able to guide the reporter down to base to broadcast the news in time for the Coronation.

Griffith Pugh was a physiologist employed in the Division of Human Physiology of the Medical Research Council and was sponsored by them to join the expedition specifically to observe and advise on all kinds of effects on the body of altitude, exposure, effort and diet.  He worked out how much fuel, calorific food, oxygen and weight of equipment per person would be required.  He was not the expedition doctor, who was Dr Michael Ward, but was very useful as a second member with medical expertise.

Below the image of Everest is the pendant depicting the Town Coat of Arms and each successive Town Mayor has their name and their year of office engraved on the lozenges around the neck of the chain, which are mounted on velvet.


The Harpenden Coat of Arms 

Harpenden Town Council’s Coat of Arms was originally granted to the former Harpenden Urban District Council in 1949 and was ultimately transferred to Harpenden Town Council for its use when it was created in 1989. The Coat of Arms, as well as on the Mayor's Chain, also appears on the Town Sign on Harpenden Common and is also used on the Council’s website, in its information and publicity materials and on its letterhead. 

The Coat of Arms, in traditional heraldic language, is described as:

Bendy of six Gules and argent three Garbs or a chief Azure. Thereon on pale between two Saltires throughout of the third a Fesse dancette Sable and for the Crest on Wreath of the Colours. Within Wattled palings proper a Mount vert thereon a Hart lodged also proper.

The Coat of Arms shows a hart (deer) at rest over traditional mountings of a helmet and wreath, alluding to the County of Hertfordshire. The two gold crosses represent the Diocese of St Albans, with the black ‘W’ between them taken from the Wittewronge arms (the original owners of Rothamsted Manor), as are the diagonal rips in the bottom part of the shield. The three gold sheaves symbolise Harpenden’s connection with wheat growing, including in the past with the straw-plaiting industry.

Mayors Chain and Coat of Arms Primary Featured Image Mayors Chain and Coat of Arms Secondary Featured Image


24/01/2024 09:02
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23/11/2023 13:59
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