November 8 – Lord Mayor's Show in London

Posted on November 8, 2014

This event has been held every year, continuously, for more than 470 years. It's been happening off-and-on for almost 800 years!

(London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and of England.)

Every year a Lord Mayor of the City of London is chosen, and every year the Lord Mayor makes a trip from the center of London to the Royal Courts of Justice, in the City of Westminster, to take an oath of loyalty to the Crown. 

(This is more than swearing allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II; it is swearing allegiance to WHOEVER sits in the throne.)

It is strange to realize that the Lord Mayor of the City of London is different than the Mayor of London! (Even weirder, “the City of London” is different than the city called “London.” More on that below.) London has only had an elected head known as a mayor for the past 15 years, but the Lord Mayorship has existed since 1189 and was once one of the most important offices an English person could have.

So, what is “the City of London”?

The red portion in the
very heart of London
is called the "City of
It is a city and ceremonial county within London, the part that was settled by the Romans in the 1st century CE and that continued to be considered London through the Middle Ages. It is about a square mile in size, and it includes around 7,000 residents and many business and financial establishments.

(When we say London, we generally mean Greater London, which includes the City of Westminster and some 30 other boroughs – and around 8,400,000 residents!)

Now, what's all this about the Lord Mayor's “Show”?

I mentioned that the Lord Mayor travels from the heart of London known as “the City” to the royal enclave at Westminster. Well, this procession grew to be a “show” – pomp and pageantry, show and fun!

The Lord Mayor used to travel via horseback and barge, but now typically rides in a coach. 

(In 1710 a drunken flower girl somehow knocked the Lord Mayor off of his horse, and he broke his leg...and we can't have that!)

Gog and Magog
A great many “Livery Companies,” such as Goldsmiths and Fishmongers, participate in the show, as do regiments such as the Honourable Artillery Company. 

Favorite charities and old schools and business associations of the year's Lord Mayor are invited to participate as well. Volunteers create and parade giant reproductions of statues of Gog and Magog.

In addition to the procession (aka parade), there is a river pageant and a fireworks display. I read that the fireworks may be cancelled this year, though, to save money.

Did you know...?

A float in the Lord Mayor's Show
Have you ever wondered why large displays rolling down the street in a parade or carnival are called “floats”? Well, it's all because of the Lord Mayor's Show! In the past, much of the procession to Westminster and back took place on a barge on the River Thames. The barge and other boats and watercraft were highly decorated for this parade-on-the-river, and each unit became known as a “float.” When parades on the street began to feature decorated cars and carts and rolling displays, the name transferred over...

Also on this date:

Domino Day

Anniversary of Montana becoming a state 

Aid and Abet Punsters Day

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