Weighing The Mayor of High Wycombe

Feb 4, 2022 0 comments

Every year at the Annual Meeting of the Charter Trustees of the town of High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, England, a new mayor is elected. The mayor and his officers are then subjected to a strange initiation ritual.

A large brass scale is brought in and the mayor in traditional garb is weighed in full view of the public and his or her weight recorded. One year later, when he leaves office to make way for the new mayor, the mayor is weighed again. If he was found to have gained weight, it was presumed that he got fat at the taxpayers' expense and would be met with loud jeering and booing. If his weight was found to be less than the previous year, the crowd cheered as a sign of their appreciation and gratitude for hard work done for the community.

Weighing The Mayor of High Wycombe

High Wycombe Mayor Weighing 2015. Photo: Trevor Laight/Flickr

The tradition dates back to medieval times and is supposed to have began when a mayor got drunk and started misbehaving and offering affronts to several gentlemen. The townsfolk were so disgusted by this behavior that he was stripped of his burgeeship and the great bell was rung out in testimony of his misdemeanors. Thereafter, a new weighing process was put in place where the mayor was weighed and recorded so that is weight could be compared at the end of the mayoral year. If the town crier shouted out his weight followed by “and some more”, it meant that the mayor was indulging in too much good living at taxpayers' expense and the crowd jeered and booed. In years gone by they would have also pelted the offending person with tomatoes and rotten fruit.

If the town crier shouted out his weight followed by “and no more”, it meant that the mayor had done his duty diligently and the crowd showed their appreciation by cheering loudly.

Weighing The Mayor of High Wycombe

Photo: Stuart King/Flickr


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