The annual Election of the Mayor of Ock Street resulted in a shock result today with a new “mayor” (mock mayor really) crowned by our “real mayor” Cllr Angela Lawrence. Are you confused yet? Abingdon-on-Thames rejoices in a tradition going back hundreds of years, to when Ock Street was the poorest part of the town and the people who lived there something of an underclass. In true Abingdon style they used to elect a person to stand up for the rights of these common folk against the authorities of the town, this person being dubbed the Mayor of Ock Street. Mock Mayors exist in a few other towns, but are a rarity, and most of the others are in the West Country. At some point the Election of the Mayor of Ock Street became closely connected with the Abingdon Traditional Morris dancers, who always dance with a set of Ox Horns on display referring back to their legendary winning of this post-barbecue trophy after a set-to with the boys from the other side of the town. So election day now involves something of a marathon of Morris Dancing, with guest sides coming from near and far to join in the festival atmosphere.
The shock result? Roger Cox, after a reign of several years, gives way to Harry Knight as the new Mayor of Ock Street, after Harry’s victory of 95 votes to 67. Residents of Ock Street and the adjacent areas still make up the voting population along with the members of the Abingdon Traditional Morris side. Harry’s new duties will include being carried around shoulder-high in a be-flowered sedan chair, mastering the donning of the complicated double sash and taking good care of the ceremonial sword and goblet.