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Mayor holds court on river

Wednesday 23rd July 2014

A CENTURIES’-old tradition was marked in Maidstone when the new mayor and his mayoress took a trip down the River Medway.

The mayor Cllr Richard Thick and his wife Rosanne were at the head of a flotilla of vessels, to hold a ‘Court of Survey’ on the river, as set out in a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, in December 1559.

Historically, the court was held annually to inspect the condition of the River Medway between East Farleigh and Burham, to "redress any disorders and remove any nuisances".

Under a second charter, dating back to July 1619, in the reign of King James I, swans and cygnets were ringed as part of the cruise, but Swanmaster Eric Philp passed away last year so this part of the court could not be performed.

Since 1981, the Court of Survey cruise has been organised by past president of the Hempstead and Yalding Cruising Club (HYCC) Bob Tuthill.

The mayor was piped aboard the Mayor’s Barge at Jubilee Walk by the Maidstone Sea Cadets and a cannon was fired to mark the start of the cruise.

The official party was greeted by the president, Mo Clayton, Acting Commodore Mark Smurthwaite, with whom the mayor is pictured, and Mr Tuthill.

Also aboard were the Mayoress of Tonbridge and Malling Cllr Sasha Luck and leaders of various political groups and parish councillors.

The Mayor’s Barge headed the convoy, which sailed through Allington Lock to Hawkwood Stone, where another cannon was fired to mark the outer limits of the mayor’s jurisdiction.

The convoy returned to Maidstone, where the mayor went ashore distributing some of his pennants for the cruise to his escorting boats.

After lunch, the convoy sailed up river to East Farleigh lock, where the mayor was greeted by the chairs of East Farleigh, Barming and Tovil Parish Councils and a third cannon was fired marking the inner limit of the mayor’s charter jurisdiction.

The convoy sailed through Teston Lock and upriver to Wateringbury and Medway Wharf Marina, where the mayor was piped ashore.

He was presented with a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.