Another Bizarre London Ceremony
I wrote about the ceremony of the Knollys Rose – the granting of a single red rose in return for the loss of a garden centuries ago – in a recent Bryant & May novel (I can’t remember which one) only because I stumbled upon the site while walking through the city one day. Now I’ve found another odd ritual that is apparently still carried out, although I’m sure it has been covered on more London-specific sites. For some peculiar reason, once a year the City of London still pays rent to the Crown via the Chief Clerk to the Queen’s Remembrancer.
But instead of paying hard cash, the deal was transmuted to an offering of two gifts. The first is a pair of cutters, one sharp knife and one blunt axe, which must be used on a hazel branch. The branch must be bent by the blunt axe and sawn through by the sharp knife.
The second gift consists of six horseshoes and 61 nails. The Quit Rents ceremony happens every October in the Royal Courts of Justice. In theory, if the knife fails to cut the hazel branch the City then has to pay an actual rent. Unlike the Knollys Rose, the meaning of this one appears to be lost – unless anyone here knows more.