On the last Sunday in September each year, the Pearly Kings and Queens of London – London’s Costermongers, celebrate the harvest in their own unique style at the spiritual home of the Cockney, the church of St Mary-le-Bow on Cheapside.
During the afternoon there are performances at the Guildhall Yard including morris dancers, musicians and drummers, the highlights of which are the maypole dancing involving all the Pearlies, visiting dignitaries and Chelsea Pensioners, and the perambulation of Pearlies singing the traditional Cockney songs.
A parade of dignitaries with edible goodies is then transported by barrow from the Guildhall to the church for a special service. Well known hymns are sung appropriate to the season and the Pearlies will speak about their history and involvement with charitable works.
The famous Bow Bells are rung for the event, which is a rare chance to hear them.
I have covered this event for the last five years, since stumbling upon it in 2015 on one of my London photo walks, and have photographed the Pearlies, many of whom I have gotten to know now, at this – one of my favourite London events each year.
I have also supported & photographed the Pearly Kings & Queens at other events around the capital including collecting on Brick Lane, at the Greenwich Pancake Races and in the London New Year’s Day Parade.