Mark the beginning of autumn with a glimpse of one of London’s most traditional institutions. The Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival celebrations have around for over 140 years!
So who are the Pearly Kings and Queens? Founded by Henry Croft in 1875, the charitable organisation comprises 30 or so ‘royal families’ or ‘Pearlies’. Remarkably, the organisation has raised millions for the capital’s charities. Despite this, the ‘Pearlies’ are just as well known for their distinctive pearl-button covered black suits and their Cockney rhyming slang where ‘boat race’ means ‘face’ and ‘whistle an’ flute’ means ‘suit’.
On the last Sunday of September, the Harvest Festival includes a parade of the Pearly Kings and Queens, dressed in their traditional finery, from the Guildhall to St. Mary Le Bow church. Fund-raising festivities include Morris and maypole dancing, marching bands and drummers.