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Wycombe: A town where tradition is kept alive

| April 8, 2014

Ivor-2014-04-08-Mayoral Arch, High Street, High Wycombe

Those who have lived in Wycombe as long as myself will have seen many changes in the town centre over the years.

Businesses have come and gone, historic buildings have been demolished and parts of the town have changed beyond recognition.

One things that has stayed constant however is the towns upholding of tradition.

Take for example Wycombe’s ‘Mayor Making’ ceremony which dates back to 1678 and involves weighing the outgoing mayor to see if he has put on weight at the tax payer’s expense.

Then of course there is the ancient ‘Beating of the Bounds’ ceremony which involves an official procession around the towns boundary stones and upon reaching each stone a special ‘bumping box’ is produced and a young boy ‘bumped’ against it.

Keeping a tradition going for many years can be difficult indeed the ‘Beating of the Bounds’ took place for many years before ceasing in the 1920’s, however it was resurrected again in the late 1990’s.

Another occasional tradition in Wycombe it to build a special ‘Mayoral Arch’ in the town centre to commemorate special occasions. Many of the arches were constructed using or featuring chairs for which the town was once famous.

While not an annual occurrence there have been a number of such arches documented as being constructed. The first chair arch was erected in 1877 to mark the visit Queen Victoria paid to Disraeli at Hughenden Manor. In 1884 an arch consisting of 400 chairs and was erected at the Guildhall to mark the visit of the Prince of Wales.

In 1962 an indoor arch was built in the Town Hall in Queen Victoria Road to commemorate a visit from the Queen.

The last major arch was built in 2000 by the Guild Hall at the end of the High Street to commemorate the furniture makers of the town. This arch used 200 chairs and was nine and a half meters high.

Now there is currently another arch beside the Guild Hall, this time the arch has been built to raise funds and awareness for two very worthwhile local charities, the One Can Trust and Child Bereavement UK.

I must say the modern day arch looks very impressive. Dominating the western end of the High Street it certainly makes a statement of intent as well as giving the young generation of Wycombe a chance to see what the historical arches of the past must have looked like.

Keeping old traditions alive is something that yours truly fully supports. Maybe the Mayoral Arch can become a regular event in the town, not only would it keep our traditions alive but at the same time raise vital money for good causes.

Why limit the arches to the High Street, I’m sure a large arch would look spectacular on Frogmoor or maybe even in Desborough Road. When there is something to celebrate Wycombe should celebrate in style with the traditional arch. It’s a shame there wasn’t an arch built for the Queens recent Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The buildings and layout of Wycombe may be ever changing but at least we are safe in the knowledge that our traditions are being kept alive.

What do you think?

*Don’t forget my blogs are published twice a week here, on the Wycombe Today site, every Tuesday evening around 8pm and late on Friday evenings.

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