Tag Archives: Unusual Traditions and Events in London

The Most Unusual Traditions and Events in London (part 2)

Guy Fawkes Night

On November 5th every year, bonfires are lit in the country and scarecrow-like effigies of a man named Guy Fawkes are soaked in flames at the same time fireworks are illuminating the night sky.

The reason is that on that day of the year 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of his Catholic cronies reportedly plotted to blow up the Palace of Westminster when the State Opening of Parliament was held. They are said to have planned to kill Protestant King James I of England and Ireland, kidnap his daughter, Elizabeth, and install her on the throne, hoping that she would be a monarch sympathetic to the Catholics of the realm. As a result, Britons light bonfires in order to remind themselves not to be like Guy.

A decree from King Charles II admits that there is a requirement that at least six ravens is always kept at the Tower of London. Rumor has it that the law stemmed from a warning the king received in the courtyard, telling the king that if the Tower could not be abandoned by ravens, then the monarchy would collapse and Britain would fall.

Annual Sheep Drive Across London Bridge

Perhaps London Bridge is most widely known for its falling down, but every year in September, it becomes the place for a strange spectacle when a herd of sheep is driven across the bridge by the freemen of London. Somehow like sheep, Londoners with an agricultural influence flocked to the event. This is exactly the event: 2017 saw the wealth of the world and the presenter of The Great British Bake Off Mary Berry.

The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, one of the City’s Livery Companies – corporations and ancient and modern commercial organizations – has been around since the 11th century and is responsible for this whole issue. Nowadays, the event was held with the intention of promoting the wool industry, but in the past, traveling with sheep across the London Bridge was the norm as it was the only way to market it to the City. Learn more about the annual sheep drive in London.

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The Most Unusual Traditions and Events in London (part 1)

London is a capital city that has such a long history so it hangs on to some archaic traditions that may not make a lot of sense to the unknowing observer. Here is a list of the most unusual traditions and events in London.

Peter Pan Cup

Many people love to spend Christmas morning going to church to open the presents left under the tree by Father Christmas. Meanwhile, many others take to freezing cold water in Hyde Park for the 100-yard swimming race Peter Pan Cup. Inaugurated in 1864, the unusual race acquired its name in 1903 when the writer for children J. M. Barrie presented the winner’s cup, a role he performed until 1932.

Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

The pearly tradition of London is positively peculiar. Every year, in September, pearly kings and queens descend on Guildhall for the Harvest Festival, involving Morris and marching bands, maypole dancing, and a pearly parade.

The festival has its origins with 19th-century market traders (costermongers) and a street cleaner and rat catcher by the name of Henry Croft became the first Pearly King during the Victorian era. He may have got the idea from the flashy style of the kings and queens, who were elected to represent the collective interests of the market traders.

Inspired by the pizzazz and community orientation of the coster kings, Henry smothered his suit in mother-of-pearl shiny buttons and collected money for charity. The coster kings and queens took part in his charitable cause as pearly kings and queens and every London borough quickly had its own pearly royalty. And a working-class tradition was born.

Bankside Twelfth Night

In London, a very unusual tradition takes place every January, as a man shrouded in a suit emerges from the Thames in a rowing boat accompanied by a merry posse. They wish good health to the people congregated by the Globe Theatre, Bankside of Shakespeare.

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