Sunday, 18 August 2019


 Middlewich Town Council

by Dave Roberts,

The Civic Insignia of Middlewich, by which we mean the chains and badges of office worn by the Mayor and Mayoress (or Mayor's Companion) and the Deputy Mayor, are quite magnificent and bear comparison with those found in any other small town.

The Mayor's chain and seal has been in continuous use, year after year, since 1897. The badge worn by the Mayor's Companion (formerly the Mayor's Consort) is of more recent vintage, having been gifted to the former Middlewich Urban District Council in 1954. This year, the first year of Middlewich's Community Mayor, the badge has taken on a completely unforeseen and very personal significance for Lynne Hardy, the first Mayor's Companion. But more of that later.

It's a privilege to be able to show you, possibly for the first time ever, exactly what our town's insignia look like, and we're very grateful to the Town Council for allowing us to do this.

Middlewich Town Council
The chain and seal of the Middlewich Urban District Council was presented to the town by local industrialist and philanthropist Sir John Brunner to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
There is an inscription on the back of the seal recording this fact, but unfortunately our photographic skills do not permit us to show you a clear picture of it. Here's what the engraving, now somewhat worn by the countless suits, ties, waistcoats and dresses of past Council chairmen and mayors, actually says:
Presented to
The Town of Middlewich

In Commemoration of the Sixtieth Year of
The Reign Of Her Most Glorious Majesty


June 1897

Middlewich Town Council
The council's seal and motto, which was used on the Urban District Council's letterheads and documents until the council ceased to exist in 1974, is borrowed from the coat of arms of the France-Hayhurst family of nearby Bostock Hall.

The crest as used on Middlewich U.D.C. paperwork prior to 1974

The design was also used by the Middlewich Heritage Society in its early years, the society going to the trouble and expense of having a printing block of it made in those pre-computer days.

From the 1980s, when Mr David Roberts edited the 'Middlewich Heritage Society Newsletter' (in many ways the fore-runner of the 'Middlewich Diary'). The former MUDC crest was taken from the Society's printing block, the border lines are hand-drawn with two different thicknesses of 'roller-ball' pens and the lettering was painstakingly put together from that fondly remembered pre-computer medium 'Letraset'. The sub-heading was typed on an old-fashioned manual typewriter belonging to E.R.F. Ltd. How times change! 

Evidence of the family's influence in the town can also be found in the Parish Church.

Courtesy of St Michael & All Angels, Middlewich

The coat of arms itself is now used on the sign outside the popular Hayhurst Arms pub and restaurant in Bostock.


Virtus Semper Viridis translates as
'Virtue is always flourishing' or
'Virtue is always green'

When the Town Council came into being in 1974 it applied to use the seal and motto but this was refused on the grounds that the council which used it originally had, effectively, ceased to exist, meaning that the design had become the property of the Crown.

Many town councils, presumably being in the same position, decided to go to the expense of having new insignia made with the town council's name and newly created coats-of-arms on them, but Middlewich sensibly decided to carry on using the original UDC chains and badges, creating a pleasing sense of continuity and a link with the past. This policy also, of course, saved the council a not inconsiderable sum of money.

Obviously, though, the old design couldn't be used on council paperwork, hence the creation of the council's now familiar logo.


Eagle-eyed readers will, by now, have realised that the local High School badge

also has a familiar look to it

Middlewich Town Council

Here's the full chain and insignia, as worn by the Mayor. Bottom centre, just above the seal, is the Brunner crest. Does anyone know how Bibe Si Sapis translates into English?

UPDATE: We're grateful to Garnet Marshall, who is a member of the Brunner Lodge in Middlewich and tells us:

It's the motto from the coat of arms of the BRUNNER family. It translates to "if though art wise, drink"

Sound advice.

Middlewich Town Council

This will be familiar to anyone who has ever attended Sir John Deane's College, or its fore-runner, Sir John Deane's Grammar School. Sir John Brunner was a great benefactor of the school and the family crest is incorporated into the coat-of-arms still used by the college.


You'll notice that the college's version is missing the 'Red Hand' in the top left hand corner. During my days at SJDGS the hand was included in the badges on our blazers and there were always dark mutterings about some supposed connection with the Irish Loyalist movement, as the symbol was thought to be 'The Red Hand Of Ulster'. A simple misconception, it turns out. Sir John's red hand simply indicated that he was a Baronet. The school quietly dropped the symbol from its badge some time in the sixties, presumably to avoid such conjectures. To save any further confusion, the Red Hand of Ulster is a right hand, while the red hand indicating a Baronet is a left hand.

Courtesy of Kenneth Craig, and originally posted on the Sir John Deane's Grammar School Facebook Group, here's an actual SJDGS blazer badge, featuring the 'red hand' which, in this version, is almost unrecognisable as such.

Coincidentally, Sir John Brunner died exactly one hundred years to the day that this article was written, on the 1st July 1919.

Around the Mayoral chain are fourteen medallions with the names and dates of Chairmen (and they were, as you can imagine, all men) of the Middlewich U.D.C. from 1897 until the end of the Great War and on into the mid-1920s. They read like a roll-call of (almost) every well-known Middlewichian name you can think of and are (running anti-clockwise):

HENRY SEDDON 1897-8, 1902-3


WILLIAM JONES 1899-1900, 1908-9, 1909-10

JAMES WILLIAMS 1900-1, 1910-11



EDWARD BAKER HARLOCK 1904-5, 1911-12, 1921-2





JOSEPH POWELL 1912-13, 1924-5



Middlewich Town Council

The Middlewich UDC Consort's chain of office and badge. From this year the term Mayor's Consort has been replaced by 'Mayor's Companion' - though most people seem to prefer the term 'Mayoress'.

Middlewich Town Council

The Consort's insignia is of much more recent origin, having been presented to the Middlewich U.D.C. in 1954. And thereby hangs a tale...

The 'Mayor's Companion' (or Mayoress) for this, the first year of our town's Community Mayoralty, is my partner, Lynne Hardy.

Lynne originates from Huddersfield and has lived here for thirty years.

For nearly all of those thirty years her best friend was Ann Hough, a very well-known and well-loved Middlewich lady.

Sadly Ann passed away last October, and is very much missed by her family and her wide circle of friends including, of course, Lynne and I.

So imagine Lynne's feelings when we examined the civic treasures we've been looking at here, and she found that on the back of the insignia she will be wearing throughout this year were inscribed the words...

'Presented to the M.U.D.C.






A happy coincidence, to say the least, and there couldn't be a better omen for the first year of this new and, we believe, unique type of Mayoralty.

Here's what Lynne herself has to say about this happiest of coincidences:

When I first saw the name 'Miss Annie Hough' I thought things had turned a little bit creepy. But just a second or two later I was delighted! My Ann Hough - the Ann Hough who was my best friend from the time I came to Middlewich until just last October - would have been so thrilled for David and myself. And I mean genuinely thrilled. That's the sort of person she was.
As we attended the first few engagements I was feeling excited, but just a little bit scared. It was so reassuring to know that my best friend was - so to speak - 'hanging around my neck' and urging me on with words like, 'Behave! Smile! Enjoy yourself!'.
Some of the more formal events she would, perhaps, have thought a little too 'posh' for her, and she would have been telling me to 'watch my mouth'. But, Ann being Ann, she would definitely have ended up telling me how nice everyone had been.
Ann was, for some reason, never the most confident of ladies. She always seemed to think that others were better than her. I never met anyone as good. She was funny,  smart and just plain lovely. All I can say is that I hope that the original Annie Hough, from 1954, was like my Ann. She must have been a generous soul, as she gave 'my' chain to the town she must have loved and been very proud of. So, if you knew Annie, or know anything about her, please let us know.' 

Lynne Hardy,
Mayoress 2019-2020

So, does anyone know who Miss Annie Hough was? Attempts to find out have all come to nothing so far and, for obvious reasons, we'd love to find out something about her. 1954 is, after all, within living memory. If you remember Annie, or know anything about her, please feel free to contact us.

Finally, just a word about the terms used in this article. I am, as you'll have gathered, no expert on civic insignia, heraldry, family crests and coats-of-arms and the like. I've used the terms I thought appropriate. If you know better, please don't hesitate to get in touch and put me right.

There is, incidentally, one piece we haven't shown you, and that's the badge worn by the Deputy Mayor. We hope to add a photo of this in the near future.

I very much hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of our town's beautiful civic insignia.

With grateful thanks to:





Photos and descriptions of the Deputy Mayor's insignia will be added shortly

This article also appears on THE MIDDLEWICH DIARY

First published 1st July 2019.
Amended and re-published 18th August 2019

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