Mystery of the Town Hall Coffee Pot Unravelled

The mystery surrounding the Town Hall Silver Coffee Pot which caused such a furore when it was discovered among the collection of artifacts in the Town Hall and a proposal was made to sell it off to raise £6,000 towards the Rye St. John Ambulace fund has beeen solved.

George Slade Butler was a solicitor living in Watchbell Street (now Swan House) he was an antiquary and historian and from 1875 to 1882 Town Clerk of Rye.

Local historians fro this researches into Rye history much of which can be found in the Sussex Archaeological collections. His published list of monumental inscriptions in Rye church and the Church yard, are particularly valuable.

In 1854 he loaned the uniform of a Baron of the Cinque Ports used by his ancestor Chriswell Slade and part of the canopy and a bell carried over Queen Charlotte on Tuesday September 22 1761 at the coronation of George III; (the anniversary of the battle of Agincourt) for display in a museum set up in the Grammar School (Thomas Peacocke, High Street) for the meeting of the Sussex Archaeological Society.

Later these items and others made from the silver staff, part of the canopy which Chriswell Slade had carried on that day and, at a later date had been made into a number of useful items (teapot etc.). Also the infamous coffee pot which is from an earlier period and not connected to the Coronation, were given to Rye Corporation by Slade Butler (Recorder of Rye 1911 – 1923) and Miss Butler, the son and daughter of George Slade Butler.

These silver items from an important part of the Town Hall regalia, together with chains of office, seals and maces.

Carrying a canopy over the King and Queen was one of the privileges of the Cinque Ports and performed by the Barons (Mayors etc.) but has not taken place since the 1820 George IV. Coronation.

By Frank Palmer

“Rye’s Own” May 2004

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