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Tomorrow is the Lord Mayor’s Show and once again the great procession will make its through London’s streets so the Lord Mayor may swear their loyalty to the Crown. So, to celebrate, we thought we’d interrupt our regular programming and bring you 10 facts about the Lord Mayor’s Show…

1. The origins of the Lord Mayor’s Show go back to 1215 when King John granted the city the right to elect their mayors but only on condition that they made their way to Westminster to swear their loyalty each year. There is evidence that by the late 14th century, the journey had turned into something of a procession.

2. Lawyer Fiona Woolf is the 686th Lord Mayor, formally taking on the job when outgoing mayor Roger Gifford hands the City insignia to her in what is known as the Silent Ceremony held at Guildhall today. She is only the second woman to ever hold the post; Mary Donaldson was the first to do so in 1983.

3. The person responsible for organising the day is the Pageantmaster. The current Pageantmaster is Dominic Reid – he gets to travel in a ceremonial Landrover.

4. The day was originally held on 28th October, the Feast of St Simon and St Jude, but was moved to 9th November in 1751 when Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar. Because this meant it call be held on any day of the week, to simplify matters in 1959 it was decided that the Show would be held on the second Saturday in November.

5. Effigies of Gog and Magog, seen guardians of the City of London, have appeared in the Lord Mayor’s Show since at least 1554, during the reign of King Henry V. For more on Gog and Magog, see our Famous Londoners post.

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6. Since the early 15th century the Lord Mayor had travelled to Westminster via a pageant on the River Thames. This was dropped in favour of travelling on horseback. The magnificent State Coach used in tomorrow’s procession, meanwhile, was first used to convey the Lord Mayor to Westminster in 1757 (the mayors had ridden in coaches since 1712 after Sir Gilbert Heathcote fell off his horse in 1711). For more on the State Coach, see our Treasures of London article. As happened last year, before the Show starts, the Lord Mayor will once again travel upriver in the QRB Gloriana accompanied by a procession of 24 traditional Thames boats from London’s livery companies and port authorities. The flotilla will leave Vauxhall at 8.30am and travel past Tower Bridge to HMS President.

7. The modern route of the show – which takes in Cheapside, Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street going out from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice and then returns back along Queen Victoria Street – was fixed in 1952 (although occasionally it has been disrupted due to things like roadworks). It apparently features 3,500 manholes, all of which have to be checked before the big day.

8. The modern Lord Mayor’s Show parade, which kicks off at 11am, is three-and-a-half miles long. This year’s procession features more than 7,000 participants.

9. Among those in the parade are representatives of the livery companies including that of the “great 12” –  the Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Merchant Taylors, Skinners, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners and Clothworkers – as well as other companies including some distinctly “new world”.

10. The fireworks display was canceled last year but is back for this year’s festivities. It kicks off at 5pm.

For more on the show – including a downloadable timetable and map – head to www.lordmayorsshow.org.

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On Saturday the annual Lord Mayor’s Show will crawl its way across London’s Square Mile in a three mile long procession that will involve 123 floats and 6,200 people. The show (a scene from last year’s procession is pictured) is held each year as the first public outing of the newly elected Lord Mayor – this year it’s David Wootton, the City of London’s 684th Lord Mayor, who officially takes up his new office tomorrow (11th November). Organisers have said the procession will follow its usual route despite the protestors currently encamped outside St Paul’s. Leaving Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor, at 11am, it will make its way down Cheapside to St Paul’s Cathedral, where the new Lord Mayor will be blessed, before heading onto the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Lord Mayor swears an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, and then returning to Mansion House. The the procession, the origins of which date back to 1215, will feature representatives of livery companies, educational and youth organisations, military units and other London-associated organisations and charities like St Bart’s Hospital. There will be a fireworks display at 5pm on the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo. For more information, see www.lordmayorshow.org.

• Organisers have unveiled plans for the London 2012 Festival, a 12 week nationwide cultural celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, literature, film and fashion held around next year’s Games. We’ll be providing more details in upcoming weeks and months but among the highlights in London will be a British Museum exhibition on the importance of Shakespeare as well as “pop-up” performances by actor Mark Rylance – both held as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, a musical tribute to the history of jazz at the Barbican by the London Symphony Orchestra and Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, an exhibition of the work of artist Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern and another on Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery, and ‘Poetry Parnassus’ at the Southbank Centre – the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK. The festival is the finale of the “Cultural Olympiad” – launched in 2008, it has featured a program of events inspired by the 2012 Olympics – and will see more than 10 million free events being held across the country. For more details, see www.london2012.com.

In a tradition which dates back to the late 1800s, three “poor, honest (and) young” women have been awarded a dowry by the City of London Corporation. Susan Renner-Eggleston, Elizabeth Skilton, and Jenny Furber have each received around £100 under the terms of a bequest Italian-born Pasquale Favale made to the City in 1882. Inspired by the happiness he found is his marriage to his London-born wife Eliza, Favale bequeathed 18,000 Lira to the City in 1882 and stipulated that each year a portion of the money was to be given to “three poor, honest, young women, natives of the City of London, aged 16 to 25 who had recently been or were about to be married”. To be eligible the women must have been born in the City of London or currently reside there.

• On Now: Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. Billed as the year’s blockbuster art event in London, this exhibition at the National Gallery focuses on Da Vinci’s time as a court painter in Milan in the 1480s-90s and features 60 paintings and drawings. Thanks to a collaboration between the National Gallery and the Louvre, they include two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks (it is the first time the two versions are being shown together). Other paintings include Portrait of a Musician, Saint Jerome, The Lady with an Ermine (an image of Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of Milan’s ruler at the time – Ludovico Maria Sforza, ‘Il Moro’) and Belle Ferronniere as well as a copy of Da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, by his pupil Giamopietrino. Runs until 5th February and an admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

The two new sheriffs of the City of London – Alderman Alan Yarrow and Wendy Mead CC (pictured here second and fourth from left with Lord Mayor Michael Bear between them) – were admitted into office in a ceremony at Guildhall last week following their election in June by the City livery companies. The office of sheriff dates back to the Middle Ages and, until the institution of the mayoralty in 1189, sheriffs or ‘shire reeves’ were charged with governing the city as the king’s representatives, collecting royal revenues and enforcing royal justice. The role now includes ensuring the smooth running of the Central Criminal Court (housed at the Old Bailey), attending the Lord Mayor as he carries out his official duties and presenting petitions from the City to Parliament at the Bar at the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the City of London announced on Monday that Alderman David Wootton, himself a former sheriff (as all Lord Mayors must be) as well as a past master of of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers and of the Worshipful Company of Solicitors, has been elected the 684th Lord Mayor of the City of London. He takes office on Friday, 11th November (the Lord Mayor’s Show takes place the following day). For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk.

PICTURE: Courtesy of City of London Corporation.

Thursday is Ascension Day and, at All Hallows by the Tower in the City, that means conducting the ancient ceremony of Beating the Bounds.

The origins of the custom go back to medieval times when parishes annually reaffirmed their boundaries by undertaking a procession during which each parish boundary marker was beaten with wands while praying for protection and blessings.

At All Hallows, the beating party consists of students from Dunstan College in Catford (these students have an association with the church of St Dunstan-in-the-East which is now part of the parish of All Hallows) along with parish clergy and the masters of livery companies associated with the parish and Thames waterboatmen. (Pictured right is last year’s procession).

Highlights of the procession at All Hallows include the beating of the parish’s southern marker – this is located in the middle of the Thames and must be reached by boat – and the mock ‘confrontation’ which occurs between the beating party and the Governor and Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.

The ‘confrontation’ relates to the fact that the parish and the tower share a boundary – this was apparently a common cause of dispute in the Middle Ages and led, in 1698, to a ‘battle’ between the people of the parish and those of the tower. The ceremony is followed by attendance at a festal evensong at the church.

For more, see www.ahbtt.org.uk/history/beating-the-bounds/

PICTURE: Courtesy of All Hallows by the Tower.

• The HMS Belfast’s newly restored masts were unveiled to the public this week following an 18 month restoration project. Moored on the Thames between Tower and London Bridges, the ship is one of only a few surviving Royal Navy ships that served in Arctic convoys supplying Russia during World War II. The restoration was carried out for free by a team of more than 20 men and women from the JSC Shipbuilding plant, Severnaya Verf, in St Petersburg, Russia as a tribute to the British and Allied sailors who risked their lives on the convoys. The work involved removed and replacing all of the masts. For more information, see http://hmsbelfast.iwm.org.uk.

A record 413,000 people visited Buckingham Palace over the summer – the highest number in 16 years. The record numbers were partly ascribed to the new Garden Cafe which served 46,000 cups of tea. Meanwhile, the palace has announced the exhibition, Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, at the Queen’s Gallery has been extended until 5th December. For more information, see www.royalcollection.org.uk.

• The Worshipful Company of Plumbers has reportedly announced it will be installing a bronze statue of a plumbers’ apprentice outside Cannon Street station next year. The statue’s installation will  mark 400 years since the company first received its Royal Charter from King James I. The station was the site of the company’s livery hall until 1863 when the site was compulsorily acquired to make way for the new railway.