Today is Easter Monday and a Bank Holiday in the UK and a day of many festive holiday customs. I’ve written before about “Ball Monday” and the Hallaton annual “Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking match.” Here is another Easter Monday custom: The London Harness Horse Parade.
The London Harness Horse Parade, unlike other Easter Monday customs, is a rather recent event. Its origin dates back to 1885 when the first London Cart Horse Parade was held to encourage the humane treatment of London’s working cart horses. In 1904 another annual parade began. The Van Horse Parade had the similar objective of promoting humane treatment of the animals. In the 1960s the two parades were merged into the London Harness Horse Parade.
When the first parades were held, harness horses were crucial to the transport of people and goods throughout the UK, but with the advent of the automobile, harness horses diminished in use. The early Easter Monday parades had, at their peak, over 1200 horses participating. Now the parade consists mainly of hobbyists who come to display their horses and vehicles. There are some “working” horses, such as Harrods’ Fresians, those of Cribbs Undertakers, and the Shire horses from the Youngs and Fullers Breweries.
I wish I was there to see all the horses and their vehicles, everything from donkeys to the Clydesdales or Suffolks.
Here’s the next best thing!
You can even buy a video of the event! (and I’ll provide the link as soon as my internet stops being wonky)
I’m returning from Williamsburg and an Easter visit with my in-laws. What are you doing this Easter Monday? Where do you wish you could be?