Llantrisant’s historic Mace is the jewel in the crown of the town’s greatest treasures.

Dating back to 1633, it is older than that used in the House of Commons and has been in the possession of the Freemen for almost 400 years. The many stories behind the history of the Mace are fascinating – from its ownership during the Civil War to its recovery from a London pawnbrokers.

The ceremonial mace originated as a weapon of war in Norman times when, with the introduction of armour, the wooden club came to be bound with iron and then made with steel and iron alone. A mace was a blunt weapon that uses a heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows. A mace typically consists of a strong, heavy, wooden or metal shaft, often reinforced with metal, featuring a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron, or steel.

The head of a military mace can be shaped with flanges or knobs to allow greater penetration of plate armour. The length can vary considerably. The maces of foot soldiers were usually quite short (two or three feet), while the maces of cavalrymen were longer and better suited for blows delivered from horseback.

It was adopted as the weapon of the Sergeants at Arms appointed first by Philip II of France (1180-1223) to guard the king from suspected assassins and it is believed a similar bodyguard was appointed by Richard I (The Lionheart) of England. During medieval times, the Royal Serjeants-at-Arms were distinguished by their power of arrest without a warrant. To an increasing extent, their Maces - originally ordinary weapons of war, similar to a club - became their emblems of authority. They were stamped with the Royal Arms; and in an age in which few men could read or write, the Serjeants effected their arrests by showing their Maces and not by producing any form of written warrant.

It was custom for the royal arms to be inscribed on the top and handle end and decorated. As time passed the mace became less of a weapon and became entirely covered with precious metal. At this point the mace is no longer a weapon of war, but a symbol of authority, incorporating a coronet expanded into a full sized crown and the whole item swelled to a much larger proportion.

Maces are rarely used today for actual combat, but a large number of government bodies such as, the British House of Commons, universities and other institutions have ceremonial maces and continue to display them as symbols of authority. They are often paraded in academic, parliamentary or civic rituals and processions.

The date engraved on the side of the Llantrisant Mace is 1633 and the royal coat of arms on the top are those of Charles I (1600-1649) who reigned from 1625 to 1649 when he was executed. In fact the pattern of Mace most commonly seen today was standardised by Royal decree of Charles I (Parliament Order of 1649, Instructions for Cities and Towns to obey Maundy’s ‘forme and patterne of Maces’) confirmed under the Commonwealth.

The silver crown is that of Charles I and pinpoints more accurately its creation during his reign.

It is also crudely marked with “WE” which may be a pawnbroker’s mark, given the story that the mace was recovered from a London pawnbrokers in the 1890s. It has been suggested that members of the newly formed Town Trust went to the city to visit Sir David Evans, a fellow Freeman and Lord Mayor of London at the time. On the other hand it may be that of William ap Evan.

During the time of the Civil War when the royal coat of arms would have been disrespected, it was a William ap Evan, presumably an official of Llantrisant, who showed the Commissioners (under the Corporation Act of 1661) the Charter on 27 October 1662 at Mr Draper’s house in Cardiff.

On one face of the side of the Mace is a most interesting coat of arms. It comprises a shield with three lions rampant (not passant as in the traditional English royal fashion), encircled by a belt, or garter with the familiar motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” all surmounted by a crown. It is the coat of arms of a Knight of the Order of the Garter. The three lions rampant is the arms of the Earls of Ross in Scottish heraldry.

Charles I was made Earl of Ross at the time of his Baptism in 1600 and became a Knight of the Garter in 1611, a year before his elder brother Henry Frederick died and Charles became heir to the throne. There were no further Earls of Ross after the regicide of Charles I. The title was recreated in the Irish aristocracy in 1772.

The founder of the Order of the Garter was Edward III, the victor of Crecy and his son, the Black Prince, was amongst the first Knights of the Order in 1348. It appears to be an attempt to link Llantrisant to Charles I through the Knights of the Garter, Edward III, the Black Prince of Wales 1343-1376, the town charter and Crecy of 1346.

The three lions rampant were the coats of arms of the Earls of Pembroke. The first Earl of Pembroke (William Herbert) had acquired the lease to the lordships of Miskyn and Glynrhondda in August 1546. The lordships had belonged in the past to Jasper Tudor (1452-1495), uncle to Henry VII and the architect of the Tudor conquest of England and Wales, who became Earl of Pembroke in 1452, lost the title in 1461 and had it restored in 1485 following the accession of Henry VII (Harri Tudur).

1633 was the time of the 4th Earl of Pembroke (1584-1650) who became Earl in 1630 and presumably gifted the mace to the town. He was a man of great wealth and patron of the arts, the first folio of Shakespeare's plays was dedicated to him and his brother. A favourite of both James II and of Charles I he became a moderate parliamentarian during the English Civil War, one of the judges who refused to sit in judgement on the King, and the King's jailer immediately before the regicide. The mace therefore bears the coats of arms of the King and the Earl.

There are two decorations on the Mace. The upper decoration is a repeated fleur de lis and the lower a repeated cross pattee (a across with the ends of the arms flared). Both designs are associated with the English monarchy and both appear on English crowns.

The current Imperial State Crown has a cross pattee which contains the Black Prince’s ruby – given to the Black Prince in 1367 by King Pedro of Castille for military services which restored Pedro to his throne even though Pedro reneged on his promise to pay for the campaign.

The fleur de lis was first incorporated into the royal coat of arms in 1340 by Edward III when asserting his claim to the French crown, which was the reason for the battle of Crecy. It remained in the English royal coat of arms until 1801. The fleur de lis design can be seen as a linking of the monarch, Charles I, with Llantrisant again through Edward III and Crecy.

In brief the design of the 1633 mace can be viewed as linking Llantrisant to the current monarch of Charles I, through Edward III and the period of the renewal of the town charter.

The Mace, with its royal coat of arms survived the English Civil War (1642-1651), the Commonwealth (1649-1653) and Cromwell’s Protectorate (1653-1659). probably because it also bore the coat of arms of a leading Parliamentarian in South Wales, the 4th Earl of Pembroke. Near the handgrip of the mace is a name engraved of Edmund Hughes, portreeve, who held the post in Llantrisant sometime after 1630.

A pre-Civil War mace is rare; the combination on it of the royal coat of arms of Charles I and that of a leading Parliamentarian during the Civil War makes it unique. The initials of a town official known to have had custody the 1424 charter and the naming of a portreeve link the mace in an intimate way to the history of Llantrisant.

With thanks to Professor Derrick Pounder 

4th Earl of Pembroke

Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery KG (10 October 1584 – 23 January 1650) was an English politician active during the reigns of James I and Charles I.

Philip and his older brother William were the 'incomparable pair of brethren' to whom the First Folio of Shakespeare''s collected works was dedicated in 1623. Born at Wilton House, he was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and his third wife, Mary Sidney, sister of Sir Philip Sidney the poet, after whom he was named.

In 1593, Philip was sent to study at New College, Oxford but left after a few months. In 1600 the 16-year-old Philip made his first appearance at court, and on the accession of James I in 1603 soon caught the king's eye. Philip's major interests at this time were hunting and hawking and it was in this capacity that he first attracted the king's attention. In May 1603, James made Philip a gentleman of the privy chamber; and a Knight of the Bath in July of the same year. In 1604, at James I's enthusiastic urging (he played a prominent role in the ceremony and provided generous financial gifts for the bride), Philip married Susan de Vere, daughter of the 17th Earl of Oxford.

James continued bestowing favours throughout 1605, first making Philip a gentleman of the bedchamber and then creating him Baron Herbert of Shutland and Earl of Montgomery.. In addition, James had Montgomery created MA during a visit of Oxford. In addition to hunting and hawking, Pembroke regularly participated in tournaments and court masques. He also took an interest in gambling and amassed considerable debts which James paid off for him in 1606/07. In 1608, James made him a Knight of the Garter and had him appointed high steward of Oxford in 1615.

When Pembroke had a prominent quarrel with Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, following a game of tennis between the two in 1610, James stepped in to effect a reconciliation. Montgomery had a second violent quarrel, this time with Lord Howard de Walden in 1617. Pembroke took a keen interest in English colonial ventures, which were just taking off at this time, and was involved with several joint stock companies: he became a member of the council of the Virginia Company in 1612; was one of the original incorporators of the Northwest Passage Company in 1612; and became a member of the Honourable East India Company in 1614.

Pembroke also became keeper of the Palace of Westminster and St James's Park in 1617; Lord Lieutenant of Kent in 1624; and finally, in December 1624, a member of the privy council. Following Charles I's accession to the throne in 1625, Pembroke continued to receive royal favour. He was appointed to the embassy which accompanied Henriette Maria from Paris to England and went on to hold the spurs at Charles' coronation in 1626, before succeeding his older brother as Lord Chamberlain.

Pembroke continued to be interested in colonial ventures under Charles I. He was an incorporator of the Guiana Company in 1626. In 1628, he received a grant of the islands of Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados. Pembroke's first wife died in early 1629, and in 1630 he remarried, to Lady Anne Clifford. His older brother died in 1630, and he succeeded to the title of Earl of Pembroke, as well as several of his brother's other titles, including Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. He was quickly appointed to his brother's former positions of high steward of the Duchy of Cornwall and Lord Warden of the Stannaries.

Pembroke maintained a large of household of 80 at his home in London, and an even larger staff of over 150 at Wilton. Throughout the 1630s, Pembroke entertained Charles I at Wilton House for a hunting expedition every year. Pembroke was a great fan of painting. He amassed a large art collection and was patron of Anthony van Dyck. This love of painting was shared with Charles I: in 1637, when Pope Urban VIII sent Charles a large shipment of paintings, Pembroke was one of a select group invited by Charles to join him in opening the cases. Pembroke was also an active patron of literature, receiving the dedication of over forty books during his lifetime.

Although Pembroke and Charles bonded over their shared interest in art and architecture, they did not see eye to eye on the question of religion. Pembroke was sympathetic to Puritanism. This led him into conflicts with Charles' queen, who was a Roman Catholic. Pembroke served as Charles' commissioner during the negotiations with the Scots at Berwick where several of the Scots believed that Pembroke was secretly in favour of the Scottish position. Pembroke, however, continued to profess his loyalty to Charles, though, he urged the king to accept the Scots' terms. The king, however, ordered Pembroke to return to London to begin raising funds for further war with the Scots.

Pembroke's extensive land holdings enabled him to exercise considerable influence during the elections with approximately a dozen members of parliament owing their elections to his patronage. These men did not seem to constitute a Pembroke faction in the Commons, though there is some indication that he patronized men known to be opponents of Charles' policies.

During this period, Charles became especially angry when Pembroke gave encouraging words to an anti-Strafford crowd. Upon the queen's urging, Charles determined to remove Pembroke from his post as Lord Chamberlain. The pretext came when Pembroke had yet another of his violent altercations, this time striking Lord Maltravers with a cane during a committee meeting of the House of Lords. Charles demanded Pembroke's resignation. This marked Pembroke's final break with Charles.

With the coming of the Civil War, Pembroke sided with the parliamentarians. However, Pembroke was always one of the most moderate parliamentarians. Parliament regularly employed Pembroke during its negotiations with Charles. Initially, Pembroke professed continued loyalty to Charles. However, he became one of five peers to sit on the English Committee of Safety, established in July 1642, and in August 1642 accepted the office of Governor of the Isle of Wight from Parliament. In 1645, Parliament named Pembroke Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and voted to raise him to the status of duke.

Pembroke represented Parliament during the negotiations with the king at Oxford in January 1643, and was present during the Treaty of Uxbridge in 1645. During the politics of the 1640s, Pembroke was initially associated with he group of lords headed by which supported the Self-denying Ordnance and the creation of the New Model Army in 1645. By mid-1646, however, Pembroke was distancing himself from this group and became one of the most outspoken opponents of the New Model Army, favouring its immediate disbandment. Following anti-New Model Army riots in London in July 1647, Pembroke refused to join the Saye-Northumberland group, who left the capital and joined the army at this time. Pembroke quickly changed his tune in August, however, when the New Model Army marched into London: he claimed that he had previously been acting under duress and that he had always been a supporter of the New Model Army.

Following Laud's arrest in 1641, the University of Oxford elected Pembroke to replace him as chancellor. When royalist forces took Oxford, they removed Pembroke, but, after Parliament took Oxford, it had Pembroke re-installed as chancellor in 1647 and ordered him to reform the university.

Pembroke believed that the king was crucial to any settlement of hostilities between king and Parliament, and he was thus vehemently opposed to the Vote of No Addresses in 1647–48, refusing to leave Wilton House to attend the debate in the House of Lords. In July 1648, Pembroke voted that James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton, should be declared a traitor for leading Scottish forces into England and also sought to have royalists who aided Hamilton declared traitors. In July 1648, Pembroke again attended negotiations with the king, this time pursuant to the Treaty of Newport.

These negotiations came to an abrupt halt with and Pembroke continued to support the army and continued to seek a deal with the king. Thus, in late December 1648, Pembroke joined a deputation asking the Army Council to accept a deal whereby Charles would lose his negative voice and agree to not attempt to restore episcopal lands which had been alienated by Parliament.

The Army Council rejected this proposal but wished to continue to have good relations with Pembroke and the Army Council soon agreed to let the Rump Parliament name Pembroke Constable of Windsor Castle, making him essentially the king's jailer. In January 1649, Pembroke was appointed to the High Court of Justice established by the Rump Parliament to try Charles I on charges of high treason. Pembroke refused to participate, however, though he agreed not to speak out against executing the king. In February, following the execution of Charlies I the Rump appointed Pembroke to the English Council of State. Since the House of Lords had been abolished, Pembroke had to stand for election to Parliament: he was returned as member for Berkshire in April 1649.

In May 1649, Pembroke fell ill and spent the rest of 1649 bedridden. He died in his chambers in Whitehall on 23 January 1650. Pembroke's body was embalmed and transported to be buried in Salisbury Cathedral. The English Council of State ordered all members of Barebone's Parliament to accompany his cortège for 2 or 3 miles on its journey out of London.

Frances Nelson, wife of Horatio Nelson was a descendent of Pembroke.