The Right Worshipful Mayor of Hythe Michael Lyons took centre stage on the 3rd October when Hythe played host to the Cinque Ports Confederation Annual Speakers Day.
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With visiting mayors from the 4 other main Cinque Ports along with confederation Cinque Ports, the cortège marched from the Town Hall led by the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, Bishop Of Dover along with Lord Boyce GCB OBE DL, Lord Warden of The Cinque Ports, First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy and Chief of Defence Staff.
After the distinguished guest’s arrived at St. Leonards Church they were greeted by the Priest-in-charge of the Parish, the Reverend Andrew Sweeney.
With the congregation in fine voice, the service began with the traditional ‘Sailors Hymn’ for those in peril on the sea, which was a fitting way to pay tribute to the Cinque Ports whose history is based around the tradition of the five ‘Strong Ports’ all situated along the South East Coast, being that of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich along with adjoining ‘Ancient Towns’ of Lydd and Winchelsea and ‘Limb Towns’ of Folkestone, Faversham, Margate, Deal, Ramsgate, Brightlingsea and Tenterden.
A Royal Charter of 1155 established the ports to maintain ships ready for the Crown in case of need. The chief obligation laid upon the ports, as a corporate duty, was to provide 57 ships for 15 days’ service to the King annually, each port fulfilling a proportion of the whole duty. In return the towns received the following privileges: “Exemption from tax and tallage, right of soc and sac, tol and team, blodwit (the right to punish shedders of blood) and fledwit (the right to punish those who were seized in an attempt to escape from justice), pillory and tumbril, infangentheof and outfangentheof, mundbryce (the breaking into or violation of a man’s mund or property in order to erect banks or dikes as a defence against the sea), waifs and strays, flotsam and jetsam and ligan”.
Although all the above chartered rights have now long since been given up, it is a proud tradition that is played out annually every year rotating around the main five ports.
After the service, the entire entourage processed through the town, causing many tourists to ask what was going on. After the dignitaries ‘disrobed’ a formal luncheon was held at the town’s bowls club.
Mayor Michael Lyons told The Looker; “It really is a great privilege to be mayor of this stunning historic Cinque Port and to serve my term of office in the year that the town plays host to Speakers Day is an absolute honor”
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