The Belfast Corporation and Queen’s University Maces
The Belfast Corporation Mace.
In 1912 Belfast Corporation decided to acquire a new Mace. Designed by John Vinycombe, it was first used in 1913 to mark the tercentenary of the granting of the city’s charter by King James I.
The Mace is 49 inches long and the head is decorated with the Royal Arms, the Arms of Belfast, the Arms of the Province of Ulster and the Harp of Ireland, all surmounted by an imperial crown and surrounded by Celtic-style ornamentation.
Inside the crown, the flat circular top bears an inscription consisting of the legal title of the City and the date, the names of the Lord Mayor, High Sheriff and Town Clerk in 1912, round a gold sovereign showing the head of King George V.
Detail of The Belfast Corporation Mace.
The intricate detailing and crown of The Belfast Corporation Mace.
Procession at Queen’s University, Belfast featuring the Gibson Mace.
Photograph courtesy of Queen’s University, Belfast. Photographs not to be reproduced without permission.
The Queen’s University Mace
This Mace is always present during the conferment of degrees. The Esquire Bedell bears the Mace in front of the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor into the ceremonial area and places the Mace on a stand, which is the signal for members of the academic procession to remove their headgear. The Esquire Bedell leads the honorary graduates at the end of the ceremony.
A Mace was originally a weapon intended to be used against an armoured adversary. It was relegrated to a ceremonial role with the advent of long-range weapons such as longbows and muskets. It denotes authority, and the bearer of the Mace in academic processions guards the Chancellor in the tradition in which medieval Sergeants-at-Arms marched as royal bodyguards.
The Queen’s University Mace head and base
The 18 carat gold Mace was given to Queen’s University in 1909, to celebrate its new status as a university. The head of the Mace is set with four allegorical figures, with the crest of Queen’s University surrounded by semi-precious stones. There is a Celtic cross finial and tapering stem, with the words “The gift of William Gibson, a citizen of Belfast 1909”.
The Queen’s University Mace front and reverse details
Front and reverse details of William Gibson’s Mace. The inscription on the reverse reads as follows: The original charter of the Queen’s University in Ireland was granted by her most gracious majesty Queen Victoria, on the 30th September 1845.