Last Saturday saw the running of the Lord Mayor’s Show in London – the 799th year the event has been held. So we thought it was a good time to take a look at the office perhaps most famously associated with the annual running of the show (with the exception of the new Lord Mayor, of course) – the Pageantmaster.
The office dates back to at least the mid 16th century – some sources record Richard Baker of the Painter-Stainers Company as being the first to be given the role in 1566. It involves organising the annual grand three-and-a-half mile long procession of the new Lord Mayor (in this case Alan Yarrow) from Mansion House via St Paul’s Cathedral to the Royal Courts of Justice at Temple Bar (and then back again along Victoria Embankment).
The current Pageantmaster, Dominic Reid, took on the role in 1992 following the death of his father John who had carried out the role for the 20 years previously. Pageantmaster Court in the city was named for the role in the early 1990s (it had formerly been known as Ludgate Court). Mr Reid, an architect and soldier, is now the longest serving Pageantmaster in history – his father had held that title before him and before that the record had apparently been held by one Thomas Jourdan who managed 14 shows between 1671-85.
Mr Reid, who like his father before him has been awarded an OBE for his work on the Show, said at a Gresham College lecture in 2011 that as Pageantmaster, he is “responsible for all aspects of the design, organisation and production of the Lord Mayor’s Show. In this role I am the agent of the Senior Alderman below the Chair, and I am employed as a consultant to Lord Mayor’s Show Ltd the not for profit company limited by guarantee that puts on the show.”
The role is now so big – involving more than 7,000 participants, 20 bands, 150 horses and hundreds of vehicles – that it now reportedly takes the Pageantmaster a good nine months to organise all the details.
The Pageantmaster himself takes part each year in the procession and while he has apparently previously ridden a horse, he can now be seen standing on the back of a ceremonial City of London vehicle.
For more of the history of the Lord Mayor’s Show, see our previous entries on Gog and Magog and the State Coach or the official website www.lordmayorsshow.london.