Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 53 - An afternoon with the Lord Mayor and an evening with Fireworks!

In position before the London School for Boys to watch the Lord Mayor's Show
The Lord Mayor's Show is one of the longest established and best known annual events in London which dates back to before 1535. The Lord Mayor in question is that of the City of London, the historic center of London that is now the metropolis's financial district, informally known as the Square Mile. A new Lord Mayor is appointed every year and the public parade that is made of his inauguration reflects the fact that this was once one of the most prominent offices in England. The position of Lord Mayor of London has a role in the Square Mile, whilst the Mayor of London (a position which has existed only since 2000) is a different individual entirely, namely the elected head of the Greater London Authority.  The current Mayor of the Greater London Authority is Boris Johnson.

The Scots Guards start out the procession
The event is a street parade which in its modern form is a fairly light-hearted combination of traditional British pageantry and elements of carnival. On the day after being sworn in, the Lord Mayor and several others participate in a procession from the City of London to the Royal Courts of Justice in the City of Westminster, where the Lord Mayor swears his/her allegiance to the Crown.  This year's Lord Mayor of London is Fiona Woolf, the first woman Lord Mayor in the 21st Century. For only the second time in 800 years, the City of London welcomes a woman to the office of lord mayor. In the world's largest unrehearsed parade, the streets of London becomes the stage for 21 bands, 150 horses, countless vintage cars, helicopters, robots, unicycles, dancers, beds, bathtubs, and one camel - not to mention half a million spectators.

Fiona Woolf, CBE in the company of the Household Cavalry Trumpeters
Lawyer Fiona Woolf took up office yesterday (November 8, 2013) as the 686th Lord Mayor of the City of London, becoming only the second woman to hold the ceremonial post.  Woolf, who replaced Roger Gifford at a ceremony in Guildhall, has worked for law firm CMS in London since 1978 and became its first female partner in 1981.

Lord Mayor of London's State Coach
After Lord Mayor Sir Gilbert Heathcote was unseated by a drunken flower girl in 1710, state coaches replaced horses. The last time barges were used was in 1856. Now the Lord Mayor travels in a State Coach with side panels painted by Cipriani, who also did the panels of the Gold State Coach used by Queen Elizabeth II. The Lord Mayor's Coach was built in 1757 at a cost of £1,065.0s.3d. (over £120,000 in modern terms). It is pulled by six horses - only two fewer than that of the Queen. Oddly, the postillions and close escort to the coach are liveried watermen carrying oars; when the procession was on the river the Mayor's barge was rowed by the City's members of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen the Doggett's Coat & Badge men who had achieved the distinction of winning Doggett's Wager. When the procession moved to the roads it was felt appropriate that this historic connection with the river, the Lord Mayor is Admiral of the Thames, be maintained by them becoming the escort to the coach.

In London, the Show occurred annually on 29 October. However, In 1751, Great Britain replaced the Julian Calendar with the Gregorian Calendar; the Lord Mayor's Show was then moved to 9 November. In 1959, another change was made: now, the Lord Mayor's Show is held on the second Saturday in November. The Lord Mayor's Show has regularly been held on the scheduled day; it has not been moved since 1852, when the Show made way for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington's funeral. The Show was not interrupted by the Second World War. The Lord Mayor has been making that journey every year for 477 years, surviving plague and fire and countless wars and insurrections. The modern Lord Mayor's procession is a direct descendant of that first journey to Westminster.

Lord Mayor's Show Route (Click for a larger image)
Formerly, the route was varied each year so that the procession could pass through the Lord Mayor's home ward; since 1952, however, the route has been fixed. The Lord Mayor rode on horseback or went on a barge via the River Thames, based on the route chosen. The river transport for the Lord Mayor's Show gave rise to the word float, used in the context of parades.

Below are a few pictures we captured of the parade.

CMS Cameron McKenna Float
Anne Boleyn - Clio's Company
London Transport Museum - Railway Children
Recycling in the City - with Binbot
The Worshipful Company of Marketors (Branding)
The Royal British Legion - Poppies for Remembrance
Gog and Magog representing the Society of Young Freemen
The Household Mounted Cavalry
The new Lord Mayor
After the parade, we walked back to Fleet street to get something to eat and warm up a bit.  After some looking about, we decided to try Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of a number of pubs in London to have been rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. There has been a pub at this location since 1538. While there are several older pubs which have survived because they were beyond the reach of the fire, or like The Tipperary on the opposite side of Fleet Street because they were made of stone, this pub continues to attract interest due to the curious lack of natural lighting inside which generates its own gloomy charm. In the bar room are posted plaques showing famous people who were regulars.

Hubby sat under the portrait of Samuel Johnson in what was reportedly his favorite seat
(near the fire),  and I sat in Charles Dickens favorite seat.
Some of the interior wood panelling is nineteenth century, some older, perhaps original. The vaulted cellars are thought to belong to a 13th-century Carmelite Monastery which once occupied the site. The entrance to this London pub is situated in a narrow alleyway and is very unassuming, yet once inside visitors will realise that the pub occupies a lot of floor space and has numerous bars and gloomy rooms. In winter, an open fireplace is used to keep the interior warm.

I opted for the beef rib-eye with Yorkshire pudding and roasted potatoes and a glass of cider.  Hubby opted for the Steak and Kidney pie, which I thought was very brave of him, until he mentioned he thought there would be beans.  I informed him the kidney wasn't kidney beans, but rather the organ from the cow.  He quickly lost his appetite at that point, but he wasn't enjoying the meal much prior to that, either.  Kidneys have a bitter taste, and not everyone enjoys them.  I tried them once, since Steak and Kidney pie is a very English dish, and didn't much care for them myself.

Horseradish sauce, steak, roasted potatoes  and Yorkshire pudding

Steak and Kidney pie with roasted potatoes

As we left, we took a picture of the outside sign stating the different monarchs the pub had operated under.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Sign
Pictures taken, we headed back to Victoria Embankment to watch the fireworks, another part of the tradition, scheduled to begin at 5 PM.

After the show, we walked back to the flat and came across a building in the area of the Inns of Court.  Turns out it is Two Temple Place.

Two Temple Place
Built to elaborate specifications by William Waldorf Astor, later first Viscount Astor, in 1895 as his residence and estate office on reclaimed land following completion of the Victoria Embankment in 1870, Two Temple Place has been acquired and preserved by the Bulldog Trust and offers a unique location in the heart of central London, overlooking the River Thames.

The Bulldog sign on Two Temple Place
The architect chosen, and with difficulty obtained, by Lord Astor was the late John Loughborough Pearson, R.A., who brought unabated creative power to the making of the building and was given full liberty of expression, unfettered by considerations of finance.

Two Temple Place has two floors and a lower ground floor, and stands upon sixteen feet of concrete. Of Tudor design, sometimes with an infusion of Italian feeling in the detail, the property may be described as a casket built entirely of Portland stone. The carefully wrought and fully detailed weather vane, set high above the parapets of the building, at once attracts attention. It was intended by Lord Astor to be a representation in beaten copper of the caravel in which Columbus discovered America, and not, as has been stated, a miniature of the fur-trading vessel which helped to establish the wealth of the House of Astor a century and more ago. This gilded weather vane was executed by J. Starkie Gardner, the well-known English metal worker, who was responsible for the metal work both inside and outside the building. The clear glass windows are models of leaded quarry-glazing, the upper range being flanked by oriels. The stonework from the twin chimneys downwards was meticulously carved by Hitch, and is completed by the grilles and screens of ornamental ironwork.

Weather vane on Two Temple Place
The fine iron gates lead into a paved forecourt, with a delightful lawn and arcaded boundary wall on the one side, and on the other the Portico, by W. S. Frith, with its balustraded stone steps leading up to massive entrance doors. The steps are flanked on either side by stone pedestals bearing bronze lamp standards, modelled by Frith, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy, and are constantly being sketched by artists and others. Each of these two finely-proportioned lamp standards is crowned by a miniature ship, whilst around the base the figures of little boys playfully represent the marvels of electric illumination, telegraphy and telephony. These figures now find themselves looking towards the headquarters of a yet greater wonder, that of communication by wireless. The entrance doors are of solid bronze, embellished with delicately-worked mouldings, and are surmounted by a magnificent columned and pedimented stone screen, on the center panel of which are carved the Arms of the Astor family. The doors lead past fine inner swing doors of bronze into a stone-lined Vestibule, which presents a good example of early Renaissance carving, a style of architecture which is followed in some other parts of the building.

It was night, so we weren't able to go in, but the building is open to visitors, so it maybe something we will want to check out during another visit.  Below is a picture of the building lit up at night.

We're back at our flat now, and it's 4:30 AM, so I'm off to bed.  Tomorrow we'll probably stay close to the flat, but we may venture out again on Monday, our last day of freedom.

Until tomorrow.....

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