On Sunday 29 September 2019, experience a true London tradition with the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival celebrations at Guildhall Yard.
Dressed in their best traditional suits covered in hundreds of bright pearl buttons, the Pearly Kings and Queens of London are a charming and unforgettable sight.
Getting together for the biggest event in the Pearly calendar, they celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest with traditional entertainment in front of the Guildhall, before parading through the streets to St Mary Le Bow Church for a service of thanksgiving.
Morris dancing, maypole dancing, marching bands and lots of colourful characters are to be expected at this traditional event.
History of the Pearly Kings & Queens
The tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens dates back to the 19th century by Henry Croft, an orphan who worked as a street sweeper in the market of Somers Town, London.
Inspired by the Costermongers, a close knit group of market traders who looked after each other and were recognisable by buttons sewn onto their garments, Henry went out on the streets to collect money for charity, wearing a suit covered in pearl buttons to attract attention. When demand for his help became too much, Henry asked the Costermongers for assistance, many of whom became the first Pearly families.
Running through the family, the tradition continues to this day. Croft's great granddaughter is the Pearly Queen of Somers Town, and many Pearly Kings and Queens are carrying on Henry Croft's charitable aims to this day.