One of the biggest reasons to visit London has to be to enjoy the history and spectacle of one of the world’s most famous capital cities, whether that means going to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard or visiting the Tower of London. There are few better examples of the pomp and circumstance that London has to offer than the Lord Mayor’s Show, so if you’re staying at San Domenico House Chelsea London and want to see it, here’s everything you need to know:
What Is The Lord Mayor’s Show?
The Lord Mayor’s Show takes place on the second Saturday in November every year and signifies the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor of London. A new Lord Mayor is elected every year to represent the City of London, making it a separate role to the more high profile Mayor of London, however, it’s historically a very significant role, hence the spectacular Show that accompanies their arrival.
Incredibly, it’s a ceremony that dates all the way back to 1215 when the Lord Mayor took office and had to travel to Westminster to present themselves to the Barons of the Exchequer and take an oath of loyalty to King John (yes, the bad king from Robin Hood). Back then it used to take place on a barge, but gradually it grew in grandeur and became a ‘Show’ in the 16th Century.
By the 20th Century, it was still going strong and became the first outside event ever to be broadcast live on television.
What Happens At The Lord Mayor’s Show?
For over 800 years then, there’s been a procession at the heart of the Lord Mayor’s Show and it’s a spectacular event that still draws the crowds. It’s a huge procession, three miles long and generally takes around an hour and a half to pass a single point along the route, so it certainly isn’t the case that you’ll be waiting for ages to see a brief glimpse of a show.
The centrepiece of the procession is, of course, the Lord Mayor’s State Coach, which is one of three State Coaches in use in Britain (along with the Queen’s Gold State Coach and the Speaker’s State Coach). For centuries, the Lord Mayor had ridden a horse, but in 1710 a drunken flower girl caused chaos by accidentally unseating him and causing him to break his leg. A hired coach was used until 1757 when the State Coach was built and it’s been used ever since.
Also taking part in the show are the Great Twelve Livery Companies – Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Merchant Taylors, Skinners, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners and Clothworkers – along with groups from various schools, universities, scouts, girl guides and even two willow statues called Gog and Magog.
After making your way over from one of the 5 star hotels in Chelsea, you’ll need to find a good spot to watch the show and if you haven’t got a ticket to the Grandstand, you’ll need to head to the streets between Bank and St Pauls to get a good view.