Posts Tagged ‘Guildhall’

Pancakes, a Farm and More From London

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

Pancakes, a Farm and More From London 2007. Fifteen years ago on Tuesday 20th February 2007 I had a long but enjoyable day.


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race

It was Shrove Tuesday, and my working day began in Guildhall Yard at the centre of the City of London, where some of its older institutions were enjoying letting their hair down a little in the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race.

I wrote then: ” it was first run in 2005, but as befits the city it has a serious set of classes and rules, music from the Worshipful Company Of Musicians (1500), time-keeping by the Worshipful Company Of Clockmakers (1631) and a starting cannon for each of the many races provided and fired by the Worshipful Company Of Gunmakers (1637.)

The guilds are now largely charitable organisations and the event each year supports the current Lord Mayor’s charity, which in 2005 was Voluntary Service Overseas, VSO. But although it is just a bit of fun, it also strongly showed the competitive nature of the the City.


Great Spitalfields Pancake Race

There was a very different feel to the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race at Trumans Brewery in Spitalfields, organised by Alternative Arts where teams from local businesses were competing in fancy dress on Dray Walk. Rules there were minimal and the emphasis was on fun.

I arrived rather out of breath and very late, having run most of the way from the Guildhall, and was only just in time to see the final race and the prize-giving.


Spitalfields Urban Farm

I had nothing particular to photograph for the rest of the day and decided to accompany a friend who was looking after a couple of his neighbours children and take a look at the Spitalfields Urban Farm. A late friend of mine had helped to set up and running an urban farm in Vauxhall in 1977 a year earlier than the Spitalfields farm, but part of the same movement in those years.

The farm was set on land which had previously been a part of a goods yard for the railway coming from East Anglia into Liverpool St. I imagine the only animals then would have been coming to slaughter in London markets, but now they had a happier future, providing environmental education and a great deal of enjoyment to people of all ages in the local community.


Art, Architecture and a Hoody

I said good goodbye to my friend and the children he was with at the farm and went for a short walk around Spitalfields on my way to catch a bus on Norton Folgate, one of those great historical names that we still have in London.

Norton Folgate, on the north edge of the City of London used to be an “extra-parochial liberty”. According to Wikipedia there are several theories about the name. Norton probably came from Old English words north and tun, the latter meaning farmstead. But Folgate is more of a mystery; possibly it came from the name of a Lord of the Manor or alternatively from the Saxon ‘foldweg’ meaning highway, but I think its derivation is probably a mystery lost in time.

Before the Reformation the area was occupied by the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital, and when the priory closed down it became Crown property, and was not included in the neighbouring parishes. Being a liberty meant the King surprisingly didn’t claim an income from it. In 1900 it became a civil parish and in 1921 it was divided in two the west part going to the borough of Shoreditch and the east to the borough of Stepney. Both these were abolished in 1965 with the formation of the London Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Finally in the 1990s parts of the area were transferred to the City of London, though my walk was streets of Tower Hamlets.


Another London

I was on my way to New Malden where I was meeting Paul Baldesare and a few other photographers in an Italian cafe before going on to give them a guided tour of our show (with Mike Seaborne), Another London, then taking place in Kingston Museum.

The website I think shows all of the photographs in the show by all three of us. My own contribution was on photographs of public events in London, concentrating on those “related to particular ethnic communities in the capital, while others are from very local events such as street parties and festivals.” It includes quite a few made with the show in mind in the London Borough of Kingston.


My photographs from 20th February 2007 are linked from the February 2007 page of My London Diary, but you will need to scroll down to find both the texts and links to the images, a problem with the site design which I improved the following year.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Epiphany Rising Against Monarchy

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Epiphany Rising Against Monarchy
Relatively few nowadays observe the 12 days of Christmas which come to an end on January 6th with Epiphany. Traditionally in the UK and some other countries it was when Christmas decorations were taken down, but also a feast day celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings with their gifts. Nowadays most seem to put up decorations even before the start of Advent and often take them down by the New Year.

Ian Bone holds a picture of Thomas Venner

Epiphany gained a new importance in literature and moved to entirely lower case in the work of James Joyce, where his hero Stephen Daedalus defines it as “a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself.” Epiphanies are moments of revelation that change the the way a character or person sees life or a particular situation, suddenly seeing things in a new light. I think all great photographs are epiphanies.

Ian Bone speaks

But getting back to the 6th of January, and in particular the 6th of January 1661 which was the subject of a partial re-enactment on the 6th of January 2013, we need to remember the centrality of religion in those times. Though many might now protest against the monarchy, particularly in recent days over the ennobling of a war criminal and the alleged criminal acts against minors by one of the royal family, few would now do so for the kind of religious reasons that led Thomas Venner and his fellow Fifth Monarchists to carry out a bloody armed insurrection in the City of London.

As I wrote in My London Diary:

The Fifth Monarchists were an important religious movement in England during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, seeing the execution of King Charles as being part of the fulfulment of the Biblical prophesy in the book of Daniel about the end of the four kingdoms of history being followed by the “rule of a son of man” for a thousand years (which they took as the rule by the Pope) after which would come the Christ’s reign on earth. For this to happen, the old order had to be ended by violence – as had begun with the beheading of the king.

They included three of those who had signed the execution warrant, but they soon become disillusioned with Cromwell, who they saw as trying to make himself a king and they began to agitate against him. Thomas Venner was imprisoned for several years for plotting to overthrow Cromwell, but released when Richard Cromwell became Protector.s

They were incensed by the restoration of the monarchy, and in particular by the savagery shown by the new order against the ‘regicides’, including Fifth Monarchist Major-General Harrison who showed great bravery during his gruesome public execution by hanging, drawing and quartering.

My London Diary

Like Venner’s the re-enactment began at Swan Alley (now Great Swan Alley) and with around a similar number of his 50 or so followers, and were variously armed with pikes and other weapons. The event in 2013 began with a speech by Ian Bone about the history of the earlier event, followed by several other anarchists and socialists whose comments related the it to our current times. The event was for a short film, Epiphany, with Ian Bone as writer working with director Suzy Gillett.

I suspect Venner’s address was rather more fiery, but we did have a very fine banner, with a heraldic lion and the text ‘Who shall rouse him up?’, and as in 1661 the mob was led out of the yard by a young woman bearing a pike and the battle cry “King Jesus and the heads upon the gates“. Among those taking part was Sam, grandson of Philip Sidney Noakes, the last of the Muggletonians, another of the radical seventeenth century religious movements with his daughter Rachel.

Sam, grandson of Philip Sidney Noakes, the last of the Muggletonians, with his daughter Rachel

There were other anarchist banners and black and red flags and banners and people shouted some of the old slogans, ‘King Jesus‘, ‘Heads On Pikes‘ and ‘Nobility In Chains’. Though some were carrying axes and hammers, certainly illegal offensive weapons, none were put into use into what was a rather tame stroll with a number of stops to allow the film director Suzy Gillett to move the camera into position on the way via the Guildhall to the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

There the group were content with posing for photographs, rather than following Venner’s example and storming in and holding it for several days, along with other parts of the city, until finally the army was sent in against them. Most were then killed and the others captured after a long and bloody fight. Venner himself was wounded in 19 places before he was finally overpowered.

Together with ten others after a brief trial he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered; the sentence was carried out in front of the meeting place of his congregation in Swan Yard on 19 Jan 1661. Many other Fifth Monarchists who had taken no part in the rising were hunted down and hung or imprisoned, and draconian laws were enacted against dissenters but this did not end the movement.

You can read a fuller account of the event in Epiphany Rising Against King on My London Diary, and even more detail in a post on the Bristol Radical History Group site.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Pancakes

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Pancake Race winners in Spitalfields, 2007

I’m not a pancake lover, and didn’t celebrate last Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday. For once there was not a pancake in sight in our household as I think I’ve finally made my views on the subject clear. It isn’t that I would refuse to eat them but more that I find their taste and texture mildly offensive and feel that whatever filling or topping is applied to them would go much better with something else such as potato or bread.

Guildhall Yard, 2012

That hasn’t stopped me going out to photograph some of the many “tossers” who take part in the many pancake races which have mushroomed in our cities in recent years. I think back when I was young, pancake races were confined to a few places around Milton Keynes. The tradition is said to have begun in Olney in 1445, but had died at the start of the Second World War and was revivied in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins, going international when Liberal, a town in Kansas, USA, sent Olney a challenge to a timed race in 1950.

What had once been purely a local tradition was spread through film and TV coverage, but it was only relatively recently that we began to see pancake races in London. I’ve photographed them in half a dozen places, the most interesting of which, a highly competitive event between the City of London’s Livery Companies, takes place in Guildhall Yard, and was begun by the Worshipful Company of Poulters in 2004, though I only photographed it for the first time in 2007. All except the top picture on this post are from Tues 21 Feb 2012.

Back in 2007 I think I was one of very few photographers present, though a few of my friends came along too, at least in the following years, and by the time I last went in 2020 there was a whole crowd of photographers and things had become rather more organised and less interesting. There wasn’t a race this year, but even had things been normal I wouldn’t have bothered to go again.

Leadenhall Market, 2012

These races take place across lunchtime, and in some years there was another race by myself and my friends leaving the Guildhall before the final races to rush and cover one of the other events taking place, at Leadenhall Market (750 metres away) or Spitalfields, just outside the City, and 1.18km distant before these finished. Other pancake races take place south of the river in Southwark, though I’ve found them less interesting to photograph – and I’m not sure I’ve ever published any pictures.

I think all of the London pancake races are raising money for charities and are team events. The Guildhall race is an opportunity for many in City businesses of all ages to let their hair down a little, with separate classes for the Masters of the guilds and women as well as other team members, and a separate fancy dress class; they have clear rules about gloves hats and more which are strictly applied, as well as timekeepers and a starting cannon. The other races are rather less organised, with teams from local businesses or pubs some in fancy dressthough others in their normal work clothes and generally rather younger.

Pancakes in the City – Leadenhall Market
Pancakes in the City – Guildhall


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.