A splendid day where freemen of the City of London drive sheep across the Thames, re-enacting their historic right to bring their sheep to market in the city, always attended by a special guest and the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell.
In medieval times, sheep farmers drove their sheep across London Bridge into the City of London to sell them at market. Freemen of the City were excused the bridge toll that had to be paid by other people crossing the bridge, in recognition of their status as local traders.
It is not clear when the last sheep were driven across London Bridge to market, but the widespread introduction of motorised vehicles in the early 20th century would have signalled the end of the practice, if it had not already ceased. The tradition of driving sheep across London Bridge has regained interest in recent years.
The Furniture Makers’ Company is proud to take part in this historic tradition by entering a team of 10 liverymen.
Participants will each drive their sheep part of the length of the bridge; there will be a specific sheep pen for photo opportunities and a prize for the best dressed participant (our team usually likes to dress up for the occasion!). There will be the usual health and safety features incorporated into the design of the day to make it a safe but enjoyable family friendly day out. A personal certificate signed by the Lord Mayor and Master Woolman will be given to all participating Freemen of the City confirming that their rights have been exercised successfully and in accordance with current tradition.
Spectators are very welcome to attend at no cost, although they would not be allowed into the sheep driving area.
The Livery and Wool Fair, with specialist wool related trades, products, crafts and demonstrations, in addition to an eclectic selection of food and drink will also take place on the bridge.
A donation of £75 is requested for those wishing to be part of the Furniture Makers’ Company Team. Part of this donation will go towards our charitable funds, with the remainder shared between the Woolmen’s Company to cover the provision of sheep, their health and well-being and organisational costs, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and the Woolmen’s Company’s charitable trust.