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Tenterden Rural District Council Badge of Office Ceremony

On Monday, 19th December 2022, the Mayor of Ashford attended a special reception in the Town Hall to present to the Town Mayor of Tenterden and the Town Council, the Tenterden Rural District Council Badge of Office.  The reception was attended by members of the Town Council, Ashford Borough Council, Honorary Freeman & Freewoman, and members of the Local History Society and Tenterden Museum.

The Town Mayor of Tenterden provided the following speech.

“Good evening councillors and distinguished guests.

A very special welcome to the Ashford Mayor, Cllr Jenny Webb.

Earlier this year on the 31st October, Tenterden Town Council was presented with the Tenterden Rural District Chairman’s Badge of Office, which has been in Ashford’s custody since 1974.

This evening, this council is pleased to formally receive from Ashford the Badge of Office, fully cleaned with its new ribbon.

First, I should like to indulge you with a bit of history, to put this event into context.

As everybody knows, Tenterden has an incredibly rich history and in 1449, Tenterden was formally incorporated by King Henry VI into the Cinque Ports Confederation as a Limb of Rye.

The confederation still plays an important part of our heritage and continues to evolve so it remains relevant to the needs of its 14 members.

In the same year of 1449, Tenterden was granted “A Charter of Incorporation” and the town elected its first Mayor, Thomas Petlesden.

The town had many privileges such as administering justice and it erected a set of gallows for the execution of criminals. This gruesome but popular event took place at Gallows Green with a main viewing platform for the general public. The last execution was in 1785.

The Local Government Act of 1894 set up Rural District Councils in England, and Tenterden was transitioned into a District.

Tenterden District became responsible for roadworks, general maintenance and housing.  I am sure many of us wish we still had responsibility for roadworks to repair the many potholes and substandard road surfaces, as we are plagued with ongoing issues.

Unfortunately, we do not.

On 1st April 1974, Local Government Act of 1972 was implemented for England and Wales. The result was Tenterden District merging with the various Ashford districts. Before Tenterden District was dissolved, it was responsible for nine parishes.

Sadly, that was the end of 525 years of Tenterden’s local powers which helped shape the town’s and surrounding villages’ destiny.

As Tenterden moves into the future, our town’s sustainability is partially reliant on Ashford. Access to capital funds for community projects is critical.

In the coming years, we need a more collaborative working relationship for the benefit of Tenterden’s community. This starts with our first meeting with Ashford’s CEO next January.

Today, we celebrate after 48 years, The Chairman’s Badge of Office, coming home to reunite with the original Tenterden District Regalia of the Mayor’s office.

The ribbon carries 9ct. gold bars, each engraved with past Chairmen.  

The Badge is made in 9ct. gold, hallmarked Birmingham 1959. On the front in the centre, are a collection of nine parish emblems.

From the top in clockwise direction the emblems are:

- Saxon Font - Newenden 

- Oak Tree – Rolvenden

- Bishops Mitre – Stone-in-Oxney

- May Pole – Wittersham

- Windmill - Woodchurch

- Viking Ship – Appledore (Viking raids)

- Maids - Biddenden

- Domesday Book – High Halden

- Saxon stockade – Kenardington

Without a doubt, it is truly a marvellous and intricate piece of workmanship, which will be treasured by Tenterden Town Council and its community.

So, on behalf of Tenterden Town Council, a very big thank you to Ashford Borough Council.”