The Cinque Ports Corps of Drums at the Pearly Kings and Queens Costermongers’ Harvest
Festival Parade & Service, Guildhall Yard, London, 28 September 2014
Would you Adam and Eve it? It's that Harry Lime again for The Cinque Ports to jump
in their Jam Jars and Scapa Flo down the Frog and Toad to the Guildhall to help the
Pearly Kings and Queens in their shiny Whistle and Flutes raise some Bees and Honey
by having a Ding Dong. (*Translation below.)
Each London Borough has a Pearly King and Queen, as do the City of London and the
City of Westminster. It's a colourful London tradition that has been kept alive by
a few dedicated people, figureheads for the capital's working class communities.
Today they raise money for charity, in 2012/13 donating over £20,000 to London aid
organisations. (There is a link to the London Pearly Kings And Queens Society website
in our Links section.)
The Costermongers’ Harvest Festival Parade and Service is the Pearly Kings and Queens
flagship event with all the Pearly Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses decked out
in their shiniest and most elaborate outfits. This year is the 16th occasion when
it has taken place, and it was organised and hosted as usual by Mrs Doreen Golding,
Pearly Queen of the Old Kent Road and Bow Bells. For the fourth year The Cinque
Ports Corps of Drums was delighted to be able to support this event by supplying
a little martial music and a chance for the Pearlies to parade and sing to our Londoner
After enjoying the Morris Dancers, Pandemonium Drummers and The Green Hackle Pipe
Band, we sounded our bugle fanfare Westminster and then marched on gingerly to The
King of the Fairies. Previous years’ experience on the slippery courtyard cobbles
made us unsure of our footing even in this slow march.
Thankfully the limited space soon brought us to a halt facing the Guildhall for most
of our performance. Euterpe, Soldiers Selection and our 1914-18 Medley soon gave
way to the moment all those Pearly Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses had been
waiting for… our Londoner Medley.
No sooner had the first notes of Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner rung out than
the assembled Pearly Royalty was on its feet parading, singing and generally ‘giving
it large’. This must be the only place we play where not only have the audience heard
of All My Life I Wanted to be a Barrow Boy, but also know the words. My Old Man Said
Follow The Van brought the promenade to a close and we marched off to pleasing applause
and our Sussex Medley.
In keeping with the Cockney spirit of this Harvest Knees-Up, we joined the procession
through the streets to St Mary-le-Bow Church. According to tradition, a true Cockney
must be born within earshot of the sound of this church's bells. This Sunday they
would also have been in earshot of Children’s Love, The Adjutant, The Great Escape,
Prussia’s Glory and Killaloe as we played our way to church.
As we returned to our Jam Jars to Scapa Flow we could reflect on another great Ding
Dong with the Pearlies. Here’s to next year!
* Would you believe it? It's that time again for The Cinque Ports to jump in their
cars and go down the road to the Guildhall to help the Pearly Kings and Queens in
their shiny suits raise some money by having a sing song.