University mace makes first appearance in cathedral.



A MACE for the newly created University of Chester will be used for the first time later this month.

The four foot long silver-gilt and enamel mace was made by royal jewellers Mappin & Webb, and weighs five and a half kilos.

At its base is a specially minted coin showing the logo of sponsors MBNA Europe.

During the ceremony in Chester Cathedral, the mace will be placed in front of the new Chancellor, signifying the point at which those in academic robes can remove their head dresses.

The weight of the university's new power will symbolically rest on the shoulders of its head porter, and mace bearer, Ray Williams.

Using the title Esquire Bedel, he will wear white gloves and full university dress. He will "guard" the Chancellor's arrival and signify the end of the service by leading the academic procession.

This ancient role dates back to the 12th century, when six Esquire Bedels were in charge of keeping order at Oxford University.

Ray will carry out his ceremonial duties at future graduations.

He said: "I was extremely honoured to be given such a position of authority, as the Esquire Bedel is essential to the success of any official university ceremony." The use of ceremonial maces dates back to when Roman legionnaires carried them at the head of soldiers marching across the empire.

University of Chester vice-chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler, said: "It is particularly appropriate that a university associated with a Roman city is represented by a legacy of that ancient civilisation for ceremonial purposes, and we are delighted that MBNA has chosen to support this tradition so generously"As the unique design will unite elements of our new crest and our sponsor's corporate identity, it will represent what we hope will be the university's successful associations with the local business community for the next 2,000 years

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Esquire Bedell Ray Williams, with the specially commissioned silver-gilt mace

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