Yesterday, Saturday 8th November, was the day of the annual Lord Mayor (of the City of London)’s Show.
The first Lord Mayor, Henry FitzAlywn de Londonestone, was appointed by Richard I as long ago as 1189. The prestige of the position was such that John invited a later, and by then elected, Lord Mayor, William Hardel, to be a signatory to the Magna Carta in 1215. Magna Carta granted the City of London “all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water”. In exchange, the Crown required that, each year, the newly elected Lord Mayor present himself or herself at court to ceremonially “show” his or her allegiance (last year’s mayor was a woman, for only the second time). This event eventually became the Lord Mayor’s Show we know today.
Interestingly, the associated parade of the mayor and his or her entourage, from the City to Westminster, used to take place on the Feast of St Simon and St Jude, on October 28th, whereas now it takes place on the second Saturday in November. The parade also used to take place on the water, whereas now it takes place on land – although we still call the mobile stages “floats”. It travels, accompanied by much pomp, from the Lord Mayor’s official residence, Mansion House, past St Paul’s Cathedral, to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Cities of London and Westminster meet.