The wearing of mayoral regalia is an English tradition which dates back to at least the 14th Century.
By the reign of Edward III, livery companies, (previously called guilds) which were heads of civic districts, assumed a distinctive uniform type of dress. Livery companies and in turn the municipal corporation arose out of the merchant and craft industries of the towns, as these possessed both wealth and property and had organisational and administrative ability and potential. It is this connection and the dominance of livery members in local affairs and administration that the familiar robes owe their origin.
Australian Local Government has adopted this tradition and most mayors will wear a mayoral robe and chain of office. Each Council decides the circumstances in which robes and chains of office are worn. Penrith’s mayor usually wears the chain at all formal functions and Council Ordinary meetings. The robe is worn together with the chain during naturalisation ceremonies.
Council’s mayoral robes (one purchased in 1960 and the other in 1987) are traditionally red, trimmed with black velvet and mock sable fur, and are worn with lace frill and hat. Council also purchased a Town Clerk’s outfit – black robe and wig – which is traditionally worn when the Mayor wears the robe. In 1960 the two outfits, from England, cost £240.19.6 (about $482). They are expected to last at least 50 years.
The Chain of Office was made to order. It is made of gold plated sterling silver and consists of 48 shields on wreaths set in 2 rows which support 2 pendants an 1871′ pendant engraved `Amalgamated 1949 incorporated’ with a gold plated and ornately enamelled Council logo.
Four of the shields are engraved with the names of the municipalities and shire that amalgamated in 1949 to form the Municipality of Penrith. They were the Municipalities of Penrith, St Marys, Castlereagh and the Shire of Nepean. The remaining shields are engraved with the names of the Mayors of Penrith since 1949. The chain sits on the shoulders, weighs 627 grams and is valued at over $9,250.