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City Ceremonies - The Lord Mayors Show

The Lord Mayor of London

By far the most colourful public ceremony in the City of London is the Lord Mayors ‘Show’. It takes place on the second Saturday of November each year. A great parade starting from the Guildhall, passing by the Mansion House, on to Saint Pauls and then the Royal Courts of Justice. On the way past the Mansion House it passes by both the incoming and outgoing Lord Mayors and many other dignitaries. The newly elected Lord Mayor then joins the rear of the parade in the ceremonial coach to be taken to the Royal Courts, where he is sworn in. The parade then comes all the way back to Guildhall. This spectacle is called the Lord Mayors Show, when the new mayor is shown to the people. He will hold for this post for the twelve months.

Pomp and Ceremony

The fixed route

The six Shire horses that pull the coach were always supplied by the Whitbread Brewery in the City but since it’s closure they have to be loaned from elsewhere. Before making this journey the Lord Mayor will take the salute and watch the vast array of floats and marching groups along with the outgoing Mayor and dignitaries as they pass by the Mansion House. They watch from a scaffold gantry that is erected every year in front of Mansion House, which will be his residence for the coming year in office.
The tradition of this parade goes back to 1215 when King John proclaimed that the new Mayor must obtain Royal approval, or in the absence of the sovereign, approval from the Royal Justices. As time passed, the latter became the norm. There was not such a great spectacle at this time but in the sixteenth century it began to take on the pageantry and develop into the public display it is today. Until the Royal Courts of Justice opened in the strand in the 1800’s the destination of the procession had always been Westminster.

Click thumbnails below for a random selection of photos from 2016

The route has been fixed since 1952. Before that it was changed each year to pass through the new Lord Mayor's ward. In days of old he rode on horseback or went on a barge via the River Thames depending which route was chosen. After Sir Gilbert Heathcote was unseated by a drunken flower girl in 1710 state coaches replaced horses. The last time the Thames was used as part of the route was in 1856. The State Coach used for the journey was built in 1757 at a cost of £1,065. 0s. and 3d.
The Great Twelve Livery Companies, bands, the military, and organizations that the Lord Mayor wishes to support such as charities, old schools and his employer before he became Lord Mayor are all invited to take part. Two giant reproductions of Gog and Magog (originally one called Gogmagog) are also there each year. On the way to the Royal Courts of Justice the Lord Mayor stops off and spends some at Saint Paul’s, where he receives the blessing from the Dean. The procession is so long that the Lord Mayor has yet to leave the Mansion House when the first float has reached the final destination. A firework display ends the ceremonies in the evening. The word “float” derives from the time the parade went on the Thames in barges.

Scaffold erected outside Mansion House

2015 album >>

2016 album >>