People were able to witness a colourful procession of Mayors and attendants in full regalia when Hastings hosted the annual Speakers day of the Confederation of Cinque Ports.
The Confederation is a unique association of maritime towns and villages in East Sussex and Kent dating back 1000 years. Hastings is a key member, as are Rye and Winchelsea.
In the centuries before the Tudor Kings of England first developed a standing navy, the men and ships of the Cinque Ports provided a fleet to meet the military and transportation needs of their Royal masters. With good reason, these small ports were dubbed the Cradle of the Royal Navy.
Cinque Ports Towns take it in turns to host Speakers Day each year, after the event was initiated by the then Rye mayor John Ciccone, during his Speakership in 1992. The aim is to showcase the host town and to raise the public profile of the Confederation.
Saturday’s celebration saw a procession of mayors, wearing civic robes and preceded by ceremonial mace bearers, travelling along the seafront from St Mary in the Castle, along George Street and the High Street, to historic St Clements Church.
The Cinque Ports first came together in order to render Ship Service to the English Crown in return for valuable privileges, during late Saxon or early Norman times; reaching the peak of their power and prestige some 200 to 300 years later. Their naval service was last called upon in 1596.
Few of their ancient rights and privileges survive, but the Confederation continues to promote public awareness of the proud history and seafaring traditions of communities which played a key role in the early development of Great Britain as a naval and economic superpower.