Chains of office are archived as East Northants Council is shuttered

Retirement of the ENC chains of office marks the beginning and end of another phase in the cycle of local government.

The residents of Oundle said farewell to the ENC after it was merged into the new North Northamptonshire Council in April. The ceremonial chains of office of the East Northamptonshire District Council (ENC) were retired to Rushden Town Council when the North Northamptonshire Council was formed on 1 April.

The chains, used by the ENC since 1974, had previously been used by the Rushden Urban District council from 1935 until it became part of ENC.
There are three chains; one for the Chairperson, his or her consort, and the deputy Chairperson.

Stepping aside from council politics for the year, the Chairperson wore the chains during their year in office. Their role included chairing the district council meetings and attending public or “chain gang” events, as they are called.
The chairperson also nominated a charity for voluntary donations throughout the year and organised ticketed events for that charity.
Rupert Reichhold, who represented Oundle on the ENC, served as Chairman for the year 2016 – 2017, and nominated the National Autistic Society, the Royal Anglian Regiment (formerly the Northamptonshire Regiment), and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

“My Chairman’s Dinner yielded a total of £988 for the charities I nominated,” he said.

The ENC was formed from an amalgamation of the local Urban and Rural District Councils which had been around since 1894.
Cllr Helen Howell, Chair of East Northamptonshire, announced at a council meeting in January that funds had been made available for refurbishing the chains to ensure that they were preserved and protected for many more years.

Councillors agreed that all three chains are historic artefacts and should be restored and placed on display at Rushden Town Council with a plaque to note all of the past chairs of East Northamptonshire Council.

Ned Chatterton
May 2021