The Royal Mace
The history of the Royal Mace
The Island’s bond with the Crown was reinforced during the English Civil War and Jersey remained as a centre of Royalist resistance. The future king Charles II sought refuge here when the cause of his father, King Charles I, was lost.
During the English Civil War (1642-1651) there were a series of armed conflicts and plots between parliamentarians and royalists. After several defeats, King Charles I issued orders that his son should escape to France to join Queen Henrietta Maria, and in February 1646, the Prince and his Council sailed from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly.
A parliamentarian fleet sent after them was providentially dispersed in a storm, after which the Prince arrived in Jersey, where he stayed at Elizabeth Castle until he joined his mother at St Germain near Paris in June 1646.
King Charles I was captured in 1647. He escaped and was recaptured in 1648. Despite his son’s diplomatic efforts to save him, Charles I was beheaded in 1649, and England became a republic.
According to royalists (and retrospective English law), Charles II became King when his father Charles I was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, the climax of the English Civil War.
However, the English Parliament did not proclaim Charles II King at this time, passing a statute making it unlawful, and England entered the period known to history as the English Interregnum. Jersey, on the other hand, proclaimed Charles II King on 17 February 1649 in the Royal Square.
After the Protectorate collapsed under Richard Cromwell in 1659, General George Monck invited Charles to return and assume the throne in what became known as the Restoration. Charles II arrived on English soil on 25 May 1660 and entered London on his 30th birthday, 29 May 1660. Charles was crowned King of England and Ireland at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661.
In due course, the Island’s loyalty and hospitality were rewarded by the presentation of the Royal Mace. It was given by King Charles II to the Bailiff of Jersey on 28 November 1663 in gratitude for his happy experiences in the Island on the 2 occasions he had stayed in Jersey during his years in exile.
What does the mace look like?
The Bailiff’s mace is not only one of the great ceremonial maces of the 17th century but also an outstanding piece of craftsmanship. It consists of 11 pieces made of silver gilt, is almost 4 feet and 10 inches long, weighs 237 ounces (14 lb, 13 oz) but bears no hallmarks.
Engraved on its foot is a Latin inscription, which translates: ‘Not all doth he deem worthy of such a reward. Charles II, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, as a proof of his royal affection towards the Isle of Jersey (in which he has been twice received in safety when he was excluded from the remainder of his dominions), has willed that this Royal Mace should be consecrated to posterity and has ordered that hereafter it shall be carried before the Bailiffs, in perpetual remembrance of their fidelity not only to his august father Charles I but to His Majesty during the fury of the civil wars, when the Island was maintained by the illustrious Philip and George de Carteret, Knights, Bailiffs and Governors of the said Island.’
The mace is carried before the Bailiff at the sittings of the Royal Court and meetings of the Assembly of the States of Jersey. In the court and the States the mace is placed upright in a socket in front of the Bailiff’s desk. So the Royal Mace, in its own right, is an impressive object. However, its real importance goes further. It is a symbol of Jersey’s ancient links with the Crown, the special status of the Island, and an artefact which bridges the gap between one of the most turbulent and significant eras of British history and the present day.