Believe me, London has its fair share of ceremonies and traditions, but one of the most obscure ones I've seen took place in July in the Guildhall Yard located in the section of London called The City. Hosted each year by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, this ceremony has been taking place for the last 500 years.They originally controlled the supply of carts and wagons allowed in the city, so each year they would brand the carts with a mark for that year to certify that is was valid for use.
The tradition continues today, although the vehicles are a bit different than 500 years ago. Dignitaries, Chelsea pensioners, and special invited guests were invited to this year's ceremony to view the physical branding of vehicles both new and old as they passed in front of the viewing stand of the Lord Mayor.
This year, the vehicles were branded with the letter S, in the spirit of the old tradition.
Many passed by in review to be branded including this 1910 dust cart,
and this early "moving van."
Several buses made their way through including this 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger Coach
and this 1950 Bedford Sea Front Bus.
A 1959 wood paneled truck for carrying livestock
and a 1921 Burrell Road Locomotive, which made quite an entrance.
Full of gents and ladies in formal dress, this 1926 Char-a-banc, which was popular for sightseeing trips to the seaside or country ran just fine until it approached the entrance to the Guildhall Yard. At that point, it just "played out," and much to the dismay of all its posh passengers, it had to be emptied and pushed up for branding.
Amidst all the innovative new vehicles and the vintage cars and trucks, slipped in this 1939 Rolls Royce which has been used in service to the queen as her luggage car.
I leave you with a photo of the Guildhall, taken on a calmer day, because I think it is one of the prettiest buildings in London. As the Cart Marking Ceremony came to a close, the Lord Mayor and distinguished guests slipped inside for a champagne reception and lunch, making for a proper finish to one of the quirkier ceremonies still taking place in London today.