The chain was first acquired in 1881 by subscriptions from those families who at any time have had the honour of numbering a Mayor among their members, but the oldest link is dated 1693 and the earliest inscription is that of Joseph Wadham, Mayor in 1698. The chain weighs 32oz. Between 1835 and 1881 there was no mayoral chain, as the former one (depicted in the effigy of Mayor B. Skutt on the side of the old Harbour Office) is believed to have been sold to make a gift of plate to St. James' Church. The families of 13 past mayors subscribed for links for the new chain. The 'twelve guinea' links were added each year until in 1913 it was decided not to continue with additions as it would make the chain too burdensome.
There are 32 links in the chain; 29 of them identical design, but the 3 centre links at the front are each of a different design. The 29 links are each oblong with a shield capped by a mural coronet and connected by a series of round links.
The centre link at the back of the chain is a gold shield of larger design than the others, capped by a mural coronet and supported by maces. It bears an inscription G. Prior Goldney. (Gabriel Prior Goldney was Recorder from 1879 1882).
The centre link at the front of the chain bears the arms of the Guest family and is inscribed on the back The Right Honourable Lord Wimborne 1897. The link is surmounted by a Baron's Coronet.
The Guest arms are described Az., chevron or, between three swans heads erased proper As many crosses moline sable arg., a sinister hand, couped at the wrist and appaumee, gu. The crest is a swan's head erased proper, gorged with a collar or, and charged underneath with a cross moline between two ostrich feathers or.
The lower centre link at the front of the chain is similar in design to the centre link at the back and is inscribed The Honourable Sir Arthur Collins. One of Her Majesty's Counsel. Recorder 1873 1880. Chief Justice of Madras 1885. The lower centre link was enamelled in January 1954 to mark Alderman Miss M. M. Llewellin's two years in office, and is the most recent addition to the chain. It depicts the arms of Llewellin (Gules, three chevronals couped, ermine between as many spear heads arg). The plate bearing the crest was made in 18 carat gold to match the chain link by a Mr. G.H Lee of Ashley Road, Parkstone, a jeweller The enamelling was done by a Birmingham firm.
18 carat gold with a shield mounted on a base bearing the Borough Coat of Arms.
It was presented to the Borough by William James Harris, Esq., M.P. for Poole 1884 to supply a long felt want and to mark his sense of kindness shown him during his representation of the Borough. February 1885. Below the inscription on the front is an heraldic rose.
Inscribed on the sides of the badge are (L front) This chain and badge were procured through the instrumentality of (R front) George Braxton Aldridge, Clerk of the Peace and Coroner for this Ancient Town and County.
The colours of the enamelling were not correct (the barry wavy of 8 should be black and gold, not black and green), and the anchor of the crest is beamed whereas it should be cabled, without a beam). It was re enamelled correctly in 1982.
The wavy bars typify the sea; the dolphin is the king of fishes just as the lion is king of beasts and the escallop shells are from the emblem of St. James, patron of the parish church. The escallop was the badge of the pilgrim and crusader and before the Reformation pilgrims to the shrine of St. James at Compostella in Spain brought back silver, gold or other shells and deposited them in the parish church. The earliest known use of the coat of arms shown on the badge is on a seal dating from the fourteenth century.