Pennies from heaven at Rye on Monday

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CHILDREN will be scrambling for hot pennies on Bank Holiday Monday when Rye holds its unique Mayor Making celebrations.

The tradition, not recorded anywhere else in the country, sees the newly elected Mayor throwing pennies from an upper window of the Town Hall to the street below where a crowd of children and onlookers gather.

The event takes place at Market Street, outside the Town Hall, at 12.30pm.

The Mace Bearer and Rye Town Crier Rex Swain are expected to take part in the colourful ceremony which will see councillors in full civic regalia including bicorn and tricorn hats and white gloves.

Rye’s Mayoralty can be traced back to at least 1289 when Henry de Rakele served as Mayor during the reign of Edward I.

The exact origin of throwing the hot pennies remains unclear. One theory is that it dates back to when Rye had its own mint and coins were newly minted to mark the occasion.

Another theory is that a past mayor of Rye was also standing for Parliament and sought to bribe potential voters. The tradition is included in the Oxford Dictionary of Folklore.

This year’s ceremony is expected to see current Mayor Shaun Rogers elected for a second term with Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore continuing in her role as Deputy Mayor.

It is the custom in Rye for Mayors to serve a two year term, though there have been controversial exceptions in the past.

The mayor and Deputy mayor are nominated and voted for by fellow councillors.

It is usual for the Deputy Mayor to then be nominated as the next Mayor after the two year term.

The Mayoralty is supported by a team comprising the Town Clerk, Mayor’s Secretary, Town Sergeant, Second Mace Bearer and Seamstress. At the annual Mayor Making ceremony, the Mayor, Clerk and Sergeant are asked to swear oaths of allegiance to the Monarch, town and its inhabitants.