The Mace

T he Mace is another symbol closely associated with the Speaker. It embodies the ancient authority of the Crown, today exercised by the Assembly. In the House it also represents the authority of the Speaker, because "the authority of the Speaker and of the House are indivisible."

In the Middle Ages the Mace was the weapon of the Sergeant-at-Arms, who was then the King's bodyguard. It was heavy enough to smash armour and was used to defend the King's person from any attacker. It was also used in summoning accused persons before the King for judgement.

In the thirteenth century the Mace began to be ornamented with jewels and precious metals, the origin of the elaborate modern Mace. Its shape has changed over the centuries; it no longer looks like a weapon, but rather an ornamental and purely symbolic object.

Nowadays the Mace is an integral part of parliamentary decorum. Without it the House is not constituted and proceedings cannot begin. It is borne on the shoulders of the Sergeant-at-Arms when the Speaker processes from place to place, and when the Speaker is seated in the Chair, the Mace rests on the Table. When the House sits in Committee of the Whole, the Mace is placed below the Table on special brackets.