Brexit Looms As Portsmouth, N.H. Hosts Lord Mayor Of Its British Counterpart

Sep 4, 2018

Portsmouth, UK Lord Mayor Lee Mason, center, talks with Portsmouth mayor Jack Blalock, left, and city manager John Bohenko, right, in the city council chambers Tuesday.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Portsmouth hosted a trans-Atlantic visitor Tuesday – the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, England.

Lord Mayor Lee Mason donned his ceremonial best to meet the staff at Portsmouth City Hall.

He wore glittering gold and black robes, a feathered tri-corner hat, and an ornate gold medallion, which he showed to Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock in the city council chambers:

“This part’s from 1842, the chain itself is 1887, but the logo that’s on it goes back 824 years,” Mason said.

Many of Mason’s predecessors have visited New Hampshire before – the two cities have had a ceremonial “friendship” accord for years.

But Mason is the first envoy since Brexit. He says that’s added some urgency to an otherwise routine cultural exchange.

"I think we've neglected a little bit, in the past, our commitments overseas,” he says. “We're now back with the Commonwealth and long-established global friends, trying to work toward close relationships."

Mayor Blalock shows Lord Mayor Mason some of Portsmouth's cultural artifacts.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Mason says he hopes the two Portsmouths will continue supporting each other's tourism and maritime economies in future.

While in town, Mason toured Strawbery Banke and ate lunch with Mayor Blalock at the downtown seafood restaurant Blalock owns.

Mason’s American tour also includes visits to Portsmouths in Rhode Island and Virginia, which he says share a colonial maritime history with his city and New Hampshire's.

Portsmouth, Ohio, did not make the cut.