FACING certain eviction from one’s parlour might be thought to be somewhat unsettling for an incoming Lord Mayor.
But Cllr Brian Bailey and Lady Mayoress Raewyn Bailey, taking a breather after a hectic initial six weeks as Chester’s first citizens, have proved that such a cloud definitely does have a silver lining.
The civic pair had to face up to the prospect of abandoning the Town Hall during their mayoralty as the crumbling Victorian pile disappeared behind scaffolding and sheets.
Work to carry out £1.3m worth of repairs is making parts of the building, including their parlour, already suffering from leaks during wet weather, uninhabitable.
The city council solution was to pack them off across Town Hall Square to a disused Georgian terrace property in the cathedral precincts, last used as a Retreat House, where a £7,000 a year lease has been taken on the ground floor and garden.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress quickly turned this opportunity to their advantage, realising the replacement parlour, the former chapel – now named the salon – and the availability of the garden fitted in perfectly with their year’s theme of “Unity in the Community”.
The light and airy parlour at 11 Abbey Square, now named the Mansion House, has been tastefully furnished with chairs and other furniture from the Town Hall parlour while the salon is spacious enough for a wide range of functions.
The outer and inner halls have already been used for exhibitions of paintings by children at two schools, Lache and Guilden Sutton primaries, arranged by the Lady Mayoress.
The Guilden Sutton exhibition opened with a concert in the Mansion House, given by year 6 pupils, attended by the Baileys.
The Mansion House has already seen a number of other events, several of which took place during the Midsummer Festival.
These included a medieval revelry as a fundraising event, a Polish Day during which the Lady Mayoress gave a recital of Chopin and music by the People to People Lakewood exchange scholars who played viola and piano together for the civic couple.
Next month, Mrs Bailey is hoping to hold a singalong day for older residents, who might enjoy an afternoon of singing songs from the wars and music hall.
There will also be a display of allotment photographs by well-known city photographer David Heke.
“We do hope that different community groups will take the opportunity to use the rooms to raise public awareness of their activities,” said Cllr Bailey
“Any group that feels they would like to do a display or an activity day should contact the Lord Mayor’s Office. We would also like members of the public to come and support the variety of activities.”
Whether or not the Mansion House will see any activities in connection with West Bromwich Albion Football Club, in which the Lord Mayor has a lifelong interest, remains to be seen.
Cllr Bailey revealed he is looking into the history of the building, part of which he believes at one time may have been a baking house.