Lord Mayor’s Parlour

Guided tour by Colin Cook

This meeting was held on January 09, 2019

Oxford Mayor Colin Cook

Report by Mark Davies:

Thanks to John Mair’s untiring efforts to encourage residents of (and near) Jericho to explore beyond the suburb’s neatly defined borders, a group of approximately 20 lucky people were treated on Wednesday 9 January to a viewing of the inner sanctum of the Lord Mayor, known as the Parlour, within the Town Hall. Colin Cook, the current Lord Mayor (until May), was both welcoming and informative, personally serving drinks (at his own expense, if I understood correctly) to all who attended, but then also showing us the Council Chamber and the other main rooms on the first floor. Colin’s detailed knowledge of the role of the Lord Mayor, the workings of local government, the Oxford City Twinning scheme, and the history of the Town Hall building made for not only an enjoyable hour or so, but a highly informative one. He operates on a ‘first come, first booked’ basis, so despite having been later requested to attend a more formal and official function the same evening, was gracious enough to adhere to his commitment to us.

For myself, one thing that I was especially pleased to discover is that the reason why there is an elephant and beaver on the city arms is in allusion respectively to strength (the city motto is: ‘Fortis est Veritas’) and industry. This design, it would seem, was adopted soon after Oxford became a city (1542), and a bonus of the tour was to discover a metal plaque of the arms which I had never noticed before despite its being in full public view. It carries the date 1577, and portrays the elephant with a suspiciously small trunk; clearly (and understandably) the artist had had the animal described to him rather than actually having seen one!

Report by Roger Howe

Humbly-born Colin Cook has worked his way up to be Lord Mayor of Oxford. This honour devolved on him by virtue of his being the senior member of the ruling Labour group on the city council not to have held the position before. The genial first citizen entertained the Jericho Community Association in his parlour with wine and snacks.

“I am His Worship, the Honourable Lord Mayor – but you can call me Colin.” He has attended 300 engagements so far this year and holds office until May – not quite as many as Susanna Pressel’s 600 – and he has travelled as far as Perm. His gifts stood stacked in the corner like raffle prizes.

The Town Hall is the third on the site and the parlour retains a couple of wood panels from one of the earlier buildings. The coat of arms includes an Elizabethan elephant and the date ‘1577’ when Oxford became a city, having up to then been part of the diocese of Lincoln.

The Victorians providently included law courts and a public library (now the Assembly Hall) in the Town Hall. The group sat in the debating chamber which includes a small public gallery and viewed the Tsarist splendour of the redecorated Main Hall.

The Lord Mayor showed the group around. A mysterious Chinese couple dressed in black who had come especially from Nottingham hung on his every word.

All in all, time (and £2 of course, donated to the Jericho Community Association) very well spent, and huge thanks are due to both Colin and John.

Report by: Mark Davies and Roger Howe

My Jericho is a weekly series of conversations organized by John Mair. Most are at the community centre but there are also visits to interesting places in and around Jericho. Entry £2.00 or, if at the Community Centre, you can bring a cake. Profits to the JCA.

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Some events include a tour. So we have an idea of numbers, please book via Eventbrite where indicated.

Forthcoming meetings

Date Venue
Wed 20 Feb
Mark Damazer

Former MD of Radio 4, Master of St Peters College

Community Centre
Tue 26 Feb
Peter Hitchens

Mail on Sunday columnist

Community Centre
Wed 6 Mar
Flamenco and Jericho history
Guitarist Marcos Young and Sue Pead
Community Centre
Wed 3 Apr
Father Christopher
St Barnabas Church
St Barnabas Church Cafe
Wed 10 Apr
Bill Emmot

Former editor of The Economist

Community Centre
Wed 17 Apr
Peter Bennett Jones
Hat Trick productions
Community Centre
Wed 1 May
Wine and cheese party
End of run party
Jericho Cheese Company, Little Clarendon Street

Previous events

At the community centre

13-02-19Jericho Community Boatyard
06-02-19Susanna Pressel
30-01-19Fiona Hawkins
04-12-18Former postman, Ali
21-11-18Baroness Jan Royall
14-11-18Alan Rusbridger
07-11-18Rough sleepers in Oxford
31-10-18David Mills
17-10-18Roma Tearne
09-10-18Evening for Bill Heine
03-10-18Sir Christopher Ball
12-09-18Richard Dick
15-08-18Susan Brown
29-03-18Maggie Black
21-03-18Sir Rick Trainor
15-03-18Will Wyatt
14-03-18Ian Stuart
07-03-18Steph Pirrie
21-02-18Fr Jonathan Beswick
14-02-18Mark Davies
06-02-18Pandora Maxwell
31-01-18Sir Richard Peto
24-01-18Teresa O’Hara
17-01-18Maggie Whitlum
10-01-18Michel Sadones


23-01-19Lady Margaret Hall
09-01-19Lord Mayor’s Parlour
18-04-18Worcester College