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The Lord Mayor's Show

The splendid civic event known as the Lord Mayor's Show is watched by many thousands of people, who throng the streets of the City of London on the second Saturday of November to see its interesting procession and admire its glittering pageantry.

Its origin dates back more than six hundred years.

The Lord Mayor Elect, having previously made his declaration of office (in the Guildhall the day before), is driven in staje to the Royal Courts of Justice,* where he takes the oath before the Lord Chief Justice** and Judges of the Queen's Bench*** to perform his duties faithfully.

* (the Royal Courts of Justice - the official name for the Law Courts (the central office of the Supreme Court of Judicature for England and Wales) in the Strand in London, built in 1874-1882.)

** (Lord Chief Justice - in England, the judge who presides over the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. He ranks next to the Lord Chancellor, president of the Chancery Division.)

*** (the Queen's Bench = the King's (Queen's) Bench Division - the Supreme Court of Common Law in England, so called because the king formerly sat in court in person on a raised bench, with the judges who determined the cases sitting on a low bench at his feet.)

This final declaration was formerly made before the Barons of the Exchequer* and originated in 1230 during the reign of Henry III.**

* (the Exchequer - the department for receiving the crown revenues; barons are the chief members of the department.)

** (Henry III - English King; reigned 1216-1272.)

Setting out from the Guildhall at about 11.30 a. m., the newly-elected Lord Mayor travels in a gilded coach which dates from the mid-eighteenth century.

Forming his bodyguard is the company of Pikemen and Musketeers. The long, colourful procession, made up of liveried footmen and coachmen and decorated floats presenting tableaux linked with the theme chosen for the Show, winds its way by a devious route to the Law Courts, arriving there about noon.

After the oath has been taken, the entire procession returns by way of the Embankment to the original point of departure.

During the evening there takes place at Guildhall the traditional Banquet, according to a custom going back two hundred and fifty years. This is a glittering occasion. The Banquet is attended by many of the most prominent people in the country, and is usually televised - at least in part. The Prime Minister delivers a major political speech, and the toast of the hosts on behalf of the guests is proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The cost of the Show and Banquet is met by the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs, and one can imagine how high it is. In the late 1600's the cost of the Banquet is reputed to have amounted to nearly £700. It is interesting to note that the Lord Mayor today receives £15,000 from the City's cash for his term in office. From this amount all his expenses must be met.

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