Lord Mayor’s Show

We missed it. The Lord Mayor’s Show!

Of course, I did not know of the Lord Mayor’s Show, I confess, so I wouldn’t have known I should have been in London this weekend to see it.
In 1215, King John granted a Charter to the people of London allowing them to elect their own mayor every year. He required the new Mayor to present himself and swear loyalty to the Crown. Each year the Mayor had to make the long journey up river from the City of London (the historic center of London that is now the financial district) to Winchester to pledge allegiance. The journey, made yearly for the last 785 years, barring plague and fire, war and insurrection, developed into a grand pageant that continues to this day.

In 1750, Canaletto painted the scene in exquisite detail.
I got to wondering what the parade would have been like in the Regency. The Belle Assemblee, 1811, gives a description:
Nov 9, being Lord Mayor’s Day, the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the City of London appeared in their greatest state. The Lord Mayor, attended by several of the Livery Companies, took water in their respective barges, landed at Westminster, and proceeded first to the Exchequer, where the new Lord Mayor was sworn, before the Barons. Having been presented to the Judges in the other Courts, the Civic Body returned to dinner at in the following order of Procession. On the landing of the Lord Mayor at Blackfriars Bridge and so to Guildhall, Peace Officers cleared the way.
According to ancient custom:
The Royal West Regiment of London Militia of which the Lord Mayor is Colonel in field-day order 600 men
Court of Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, in their coaches;
The Banners of the Merchant Taylors Company;
Thirty seven Pensioners in the Livery of the Merchant Taylors Company carrying Spears and Shields, two and two
Three of the Lord Mayor’s Trumpeters on horseback.
Esquire in half armor with a lance; A Knight in a full Suit of Cap-a-Pee Steel Armor, on horseback; Esquire in half armor with a spear.
Ten Liverymen of the City of London, in their Gowns and Hoods;
Three more of the Lord Mayor’s Trumpeters on horseback;
Lance Esquire in half Armour; A Knight in a full Suit of Brass Armour, on horseback; Shield Esquire in half Armour;
The Lady Mayoress in her Coach and six Blood bay Horses;
The Lord Mayor’s Banners
His Lordship’s own Band of 21 Musicians in full Dress
Esquire in half Armour with a Lance; A Knight in full Cap-a-Pee Steel Armour, on horseback; Esquire in half Armour with a Spear;
Four Marshall Men on foot;
Six of the Lord Mayor’s Footmen in State Livery
The Upper City Marshal
The Lord Mayor State Coach and six Horses
The late Lord Mayor’s six Footmen in State Livery
The late Lord Mayor’s Coach and six Horses
The Alderman in their Coaches
The Sheriffs in the State Carriages

When the procession arrived at the Obelisk in Fleet Street, it was joined by the Judges, Nobility, Foreigners of Distinction, etc. At about five o’clock the cavalcade arrived in King-street. On entering Guildhall the Lord was greeted with loud and reiterated shouts
of applause.

After that, the Lord Mayor and guests partook of a lavish dinner followed by a ball.

But, alas, The Months of the Year, 1824, Mr. Constance laments:

The lord mayor’s show is now, I believe, considered to be the only stated exhibition in the metropolis that remains as a memorial of the great doings in the time of the pageants. It is now, however, but the mere shadow of what it was formerly. According to the accounts written at various periods, from the year 1575, we learn that the show then consisted of a far greater number of persons, banners, and decorations, than at the present time; and also that it was customary for the lord mayor and the nobility to stop three or four times between Blackfriars and Guildhall, to view the pageants, or plays, performed upon stages erected for the purpose.

Maybe next year I can go to London and see the parade for myself. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how it stacks up to the one in 1811!
What’s your favorite parade?

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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