London Ceremonies & Rituals


Still no pictures! In the absence of a laptop I’m at the Christopher Columbus museum in Las Palmas.  I ended up here by default; Gran Canaria has never been high on my list of places to visit, but Spanish friends told me to avoid the beaches and head for the capital, which proved to be an unspoiled World Heritage delight with some extraordinary architecture.

Given the vast number of traditions and ceremonies that take place here I started wondering why so many London traditions have been lost. True, there’s the Doggett’s Coat & Badge race, Maunday money, the Flower Sermons and the Fire Sermons, Lord Mayor’s Show, beating the bounds and a few others but most pertain to the churches of London, which have now lost their congregations – does anyone know of other rituals or ceremonies?

13 comments on “London Ceremonies & Rituals”

  1. snowy says:

    Well there is this tradition involving tying people to a tree with some bailer twine,Old Fred fills up his muck spreader and then…. Oh you mean in London!


    Don’t you lot still carry a pigs head in procession round the City to pay for tipping offal in the Fleet? [Jan will know.]

  2. David Ronaldson says:

    It depends how long they have to have happened to be seen as traditional. The Pearly Kings and Queens do something for the Harvest, there’s a Green Man ceremony on the South Bank in January and sheep getting driven across London Bridge, plus the annual bun ceremony at the Widow’s Son pub.

  3. Arthur Pearson says:

    I want to commend to you an article in the latest New Yorker entitled ‘The Premonitions Bureau’. I’ve only reached volume four of your Arthur and John series, which I recently discovered. You may already be aware of the subject matter and may have mined it in later books, but I just wanted to be sure you knew of it. The article contains original interview material.

  4. SimonB says:

    Does hanging bales of hay off temporary lowered bridges count as a tradition or ritual or just still part of daily life?

  5. admin says:

    Since starting my research I’ve worked out a seer of rules for ceremonies.
    1. Started by church to give money to poor.
    2. Started by landowners to remind plebs what belongs to them.
    3. Marked by appearance of some kind of ghost who wails or sobs.
    4. Ritual discontinued before war.
    5. Ritual restored by public as to bring in more customers.

  6. Peter Tromans says:

    Chris, do maypole dancing, harvest festival, yuletide and various pagan fertility feasts fit into your list?

  7. Adele Graham says:

    Thanks to Arthur Pearson for calling attention to the New Yorker article, “The Premonitions Bureau”. I believe the “nocebo” effect described therein explains the negative expectations, to put it mildly, being experienced by Americans who didn’t fall under the Trumpspell. The November 2016 upheaval was like a Pavlovian experiment from which we have yet to recover. Doctors of medicine and psychiatry are doing very well these days dealing with the phenomenon. Two years ago I asked my doctor how to deal with it. He is a refugee from Iran (who, living in the Trump heartland, tells people he is from Persia to avoid unpleasant consequences). He reassured me that Trump will pass, the U.S. will endure. We’ll see. Meanwhile, Mr. Pearson, you have the enviable pleasure of discovering all the Bryant and May adventures.

  8. admin says:

    Great about the ‘Premonitions Bureau’, which I’ve never heard of…

    Peter, I think all paganism should be included…

  9. Wayne Mook says:

    Agreed The Premonitions Bureau is wonderful, also the report about long-stay male patients being poorly attired, ‘… and there was a dearth of ties’

    I guess a lot of modern offices wouldn’t make the grade.


  10. Arthur Pearson says:

    Wayne, I also chuckled over the ties remark.

  11. Arthur Pearson says:

    I did wear a suit and tie to Mom’s funeral. She told me she would come back and haunt me if I did not. I do have a collection of neckware like that of my namesake.

  12. Arthur Pearson says:

    As well as the scarves i have a library of arcana and the avoirdupois, but not an Alma, and I still have nearly all my hair.

Comments are closed.