Join the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival celebrations at Guildhall Yard, and experience London’s 140-year-old Pearly tradition.
Dressed in their best dark 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 will be celebrating the bounty of the autumn harvest with traditional entertainment in front of Guildhall from 1.30pm, before parading through the streets to St Mary Le Bow Church for a service of thanksgiving at 3pm.
Expect Morris dancing, maypole dancing, marching bands, drummers and lots of colourful characters at this traditional event, which raises money for charity.
About the Pearly Kings and Queens
The tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens was started in 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 one another and were recognisable by buttons sewed 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.
You can see a statue of Henry Croft in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church.