The Lord Mayor's Garments

Claudia Vanzo, Volunteer, Billingsgate Roman House and Baths

What makes London so special and unique is its ability of being at the same time innovative but also strongly traditional. The City of London represents this concept in the best possible way. Together with its futuristic skyscrapers lays one of the longest running ceremonies in the world, the Lord Mayor’s Show. This is a splendid pageantry to celebrate the newly appointed Lord Mayor of the City of London, elected every year since the 13th century.

Although the route and date of the event have changed over the years, the glamorous and opulent style of the Lord Mayor’s garments transcend time. Long red velvet rope, trailing to the ground, lined with white, bordered with gold lace and having four distinct bands of ermin across it headed with gold lace. This is worn over court dress, with point-lace frills and ruffles, a three-cornered black hat with large black ostrich-feathers.

Ede & Ravenscroft, Chancery Lane, founded in 1689, is one of the main suppliers of ceremonial robes. With its 320 years of history, Ede & Ravenscroft is thought to be the oldest firm of tailors in the world, established in the area of London now known as Aldwych, which was the bustling centre of the tailoring trade. Ede & Ravenscroft has long enjoyed the patronage of the City of London. The company tailors robes for the Lord Mayor, the aldermen, sheriff, common councillors and the Lord Mayor’s household.

Over this magnificent outfit sewed with the unbreakable thread of heritage and tradition, the Lord Mayor wears his chain of office, which is a collar of pure gold, sixty four inches round, with links in the form of a double S, a York and Lancaster rose, and a knot joined by the Tudor emblem, a portcullis, in which hangs by a ring of diamonds the jewelled badge bearing the City arms and motto ‘Domine dirige nos’.  

Every year in November the celebrations are brought back to life and the magnificent garments are once again revealed to us, bringing us back to a time otherwise lost. Unfortunately we won’t be able to see them this year as the Lord Mayor’s Show has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is only the second time it has been cancelled in its very long history, after 1852 because of the Duke of Wellington’s funeral. This makes us look forward even more to next year to celebrate the new Lord Mayor in their timeless glory.    

Here is a clip from the Lord Mayor's Show in 2019.