As acts of symbolism go, it stands out as one of the most photogenic in London’s calendar – the right for Freemen of the City to bring sheep to market, toll free, over the Thames.
Led by the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveny, and the magnificently named The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, this year’s charitable Sheep Drive and Livery Fair once again honoured tradition and celebrated the long-established right afforded to Freemen.
The sheep were taken to the square near Monument on the north side of the river to the Livery Fair – which offered visitors the opportunity to learn all about the Sheep Drive and the worthy causes it supports.
It is also where livery and specialist wool companies celebrated their trades with displays and expert sheep shearing.
The Sheep Drive and Livery Fair showcases the important enduring contribution of London’s livery companies, from the formation of the City of London in years gone by, through to modern times – both in terms of the creation of new, sustainable trades and the important charities supported.
Broadcaster, author and farmer Kate Humble, a special guest at the event, said: “I’m hugely honoured to participate in this year’s Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. An incredible spectacle that commemorates London’s connection to the countryside, celebrates the many uses of wool and its natural complement to modern living.”
The sheep – North of England Mules – came from Befordshire and numbered around 40. They returned safely to their farm after their big day out.
Supporting the 10th anniversary of the fair was Glaziers Hall, the trade building located on the South Bank of the River Thames, which opened its doors to visitors for Sunday’s event.
Home to three prestigious ‘Worshipful’ Livery companies: Glaziers, Scientific Instrument Makers and Launderers, Glaziers Hall took the unusual step of inviting guests to take a tour of the building, with the opportunity to learn more about its rich heritage.
In addition to free tours, the venue also hosted lunch in its River Room, boasting panoramic views across the Thames and to the City of London.
Will Simmonds, general manager of Glaziers Hall, said: “We are very pleased to be showing our support for the Sheep Drive this year. Maintaining ancient traditions and bringing people together to celebrate is what makes us unique.
“Glaziers Hall doesn’t typically offer tours, however we felt that this was the perfect occasion to open our doors and to share more of our wonderful history and heritage. Glaziers Hall is a unique venue in the City with a fabulous story to share.”
Pictured top: Kate Humble with a few friends (Pictures: Sillett Photography)