Treasures of the Trust
Axbridge Town Trust owns many artefacts and documents, some of which date back to the 13th century. The earliest document is a Royal Charter of Henry II (1229) granting freedom from tolls to various clerics, including the Bishop of Bath.
As their subjects are also included, this extended to all the traders in Axbridge. In 1279 another Royal Charter from Edward I grants a Fair on the eve of the Feast of St Barnabas and 3 days following (the Feast Day is the 11th June). Many other documents of this period are deeds of properties, but also include a Manumission (freeing a serf or slave) and a “Stentar,” which lists all the properties owned by the Guild in 1468.
In 1557 the Corporation of Axbridge was created by another Royal Charter, this time of King Philip and Queen Mary (Tudor). The former Portreeve became a Mayor and various other officials were named. Proving to have insufficient detail, a further Charter, of Queen Elizabeth in 1599, expanded the job definitions and responsibilities and added more Fair days (Axbridge now had four per year). Finally, in 1623, A Royal Charter of James I granted the use of two maces and extended the jurisdiction of Axbridge into the present day West Street. Around the time of the Philip and Mary Charter a fascinating local history, the Axbridge Chronicle, was compiled, with a frontispiece giving a short history of the kingdom of England. Originally housed in an ancient chest in the Town Hall, the documents are now available for public research in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.
The two maces, dating from 1623, were to be carried in
procession in front of the Mayor by a “Sergeant-at-Mace” and the
Bailiff. They had to contain the Royal Coat of Arms. Recently restored,
the maces are now extremely fragile and are used on only four occasions
per year, including the Mayor Making and the Remembrance Day Services. However,
Axbridge First School leavers also have the privilege of viewing them
shortly before their last day at school here. They have recently been
used in the Pageant, which is only performed every 10 years.
The Lamb & Flag, shown on the left, is engraved on the foot of each Mace.
The chest that is shown (above), is thought to be Elizabethan.
If sufficient notice is given, documents and artefacts can be viewed by special arrangement. A charge may be made to cover expenses and make a small contribution to the Trust.