Saturday, 5 April 2008

My ole man sez foller the van ...

Thankyou Chris for todays lovely graphic ....

Well here it is Saturday again ,not feeling so good today ,but better than yesterday so thats good ,Last Monday saw us all going off to Warwick to say our goodbyes to dear John ,more about that another time ,Tuesday I was tired so just pottered ,as you do ! On Wednesday up early  for my Taxi which took me to a  Conferance Planning,policy and Strategy meeting  Peterborough , then home again  ,so that I could go to my club in the afternoon(the over sixties )where we were entertained by George and his wife Joy ,Pearl King and Queen of Southwark London ,(They actually live quite local now )  ,Perhaps you remember last year George got his wires crossed about the booking ,he came and sang to us and promised to return with his wife and wearing the suits ,well they did us proud all the lovely old songs for us to sing along to ,and the history of how the tradition began ,back in 1875 with a young fellow by there name of Henry Croft,and I found a picture of his statue on the internet ,and the account as George told  it to us

The London tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens began in 1875, by a small lad named Henry Croft.

Henry was born and raised in an orphanage in Charlton Street, Somers Town, London, and NW1. At the age of 13 he had to leave the orphanage and make his own way in life. His first job was as a Municipal Road Sweeper in the market of Somers Town. Henry worked hard in the market and soon made many friends; he was particularly drawn to the Costermongers who were a tough breed of market traders. He got to know more about their way of life, their generosity and their fashion of smoke pearl buttons sewn on the piped seams oftheir trousers, jackets, waistcoats and caps. This showed their status as they worked the market stalls from day to day. The Costermongers were caring and looked after each other if they were sick or in need.

  Henry was so fascinated by this way of life and decided he would like to help those who were more unfortunate than himself, including the children back at the orphanage where he had spent his early life. He knew that in order to collect a lot of money he needed to draw attention to himself. So as Henry swept the market streets he started to collect all the pearl buttons he found that had fallen off of the clothes of people visiting the market, and when he had enough he started to sew them on his cap and then continued until his entire suit was filled, the very first smother suit.

Because Henry was an orphan he had no one to help him with his suit so he had to learn how to sew. It was this that started the tradition, which is still carried on by descendants of original Pearly Families, that the Kings do all the designs and sewing. Designs on suits tend to run in families but here are a few that you may see and recognise:

o        Horseshoe = Luck

o        Doves = Peace

o        Heart = Charity

o        Anchor = Hope

o        Cross = Faith

o        Wheel = Circle of Life

o        Symbols of Playing Cards = Life is a gamble

o        Flower Pots = Costermongers

o        Donkey Carts = Costermongers

Henry Croft was in so much demand for his charity work, as many of London's hospitals, workhouses and orphanages needed help, that he turned to his friends the Costermongers and they did not let him down. Many of the Costermongers became the first Pearly Families. There were 28 families, one for each of the London boroughs, one for the City of Westminster, and one for the City of London.

Each outfit can hold many tens of thousands of buttons on it and can weigh as much as 30 kilograms or more. There are two types of suit - a Smother Suit and a Skeleton Suit, the former having very little cloth showing and totally covered in buttons, and the latter having far fewer buttons.

It is estimated that when he died in 1930 (aged 68); he had collected over £5000. The equivalent in today's values would be approximately £200,000.

His funeral was a spectacular affair, and was filmed by Pathe News. All of the Pearlies attended (roughly 400) and they followed the coffin to where Henry was buried. The charities that he had helped over the year all pulled together to help pay for a statue of Henry for his grave. Unfortunately in 1995 the statue was vandalised and no longer stands in the cemetery. It has been replaced with a headstone, inlaid with Henry's photograph, so it can be easily found by visitors.

The statue has now been fully restored and can be seen in the crypt at the church of St. Martins in the Field, Trafalgar Square.

The Pearly tradition has survived for over 125 years and hopefully it will continue for many more to come. We still have a few families who can be traced back to the original generation of Pearlies. Henry Croft's family still carries on the tradition with his Great-Granddaughter wearing the title of 'Somers Town'.

By John Arrowsmith ,Pearly King of Lathamstowe.

 Carole Jolly, Pearly Queen of Crystal Palace, with the statue of Henry Croft,
The Crypt at St Martins in the Field.

George also told us that you have to be born into a family off Pearly's  ,to be called a King or Queen when your turn comes ,and the off spring are Princes and Princess's .these titles were allowed by Queen Victoria ,who was so impressed by their good works ,Joy and Georges charity is a childrens hospital in London ,called Richard House ,along with the title they are also made Freemen of the city of London,so are entitled to walk their sheep over London Bridge ....with sword drawn !!!,They have recently had a Great Grandson ,who is fifth generation Pearly , I do hope you enjoyed todays entry ,and as ever ,lots of love from

                Jan xx

 

 

 

53 comments:

cornwalldreckly said...

Jan, I really enjoyed your post, it was so interesting and I learned loads of new things.  I wonder what would happen if he actually tried to walk his sheep over London Bridge with his sword drawn!  The photos were brilliant.  I hope you will be feeling better soon.
Christine

frdbrow7 said...

Beautiful photos and a lovely trip into history.  Well researched Jan! That was so interesting.  Love Chris's Springtime graphic too.

Yes the the temperature has cooled down now, and I actually switched the heating off yesterday - but it will be back on today :-(  and I gather we are due for some snow this weekend - ah my poor seedlings.......sniff......  
Kizzie will have to get his knitted coat back on ;-)

ttfn
Freda

egre328 said...

Absolutely fascinating....thanks for that.  Eileenx

marainey1 said...

Thank you for sharing all that about such a wonderful family.  Who would think about buttons becoming such a work of art?  I cannot even imagine sewing all those on that dress.  That they give so much to charity is amazing and to carry it on through the family like that.  I woke up feeling rather out of sorts so I'm hoping that I get better as the day progresses.  It's the weekend and I don't want to feel bad for sure.  Take care and I'm hoping you feel better too!  'On Ya' - ma

frdbrow7 said...

Oops - sorry Kizzie - I should have said HER coatback on :-(

Freda

sybilsybil45 said...

After a rather sad start to your week I am glad that it changed somewhat towards the end.  I am glad that you enjoyedthe pearlies just as we did when they came to the Guild a few weeks ago.  Love your tag as well.  I do think that Spring is really here although they are saying snow tonight, don't think it will last long....fingers crossed.  Love Sybil xx

faveanti said...

Oh how I did enjoy that entry Jan!  I've often wondered how the 'Pearlies' came about.  Keep warm and have a lovely weekend.
love, Angie, xx

adlessor said...

That was very interesting Jan.  At first when I saw the photos, I thought they were a little strange, but sfter reading it, the photos made sense.  Fun.
Dawn                A Couple  of Nomads

nightmaremom said...

very interesting Jan... thanks for sharing
hugs
d

sdrogerson said...

thank you how fascinating

emabecmar said...

i have never heard of this before, but i thank you for sharing it. it was very interesting and the outfits they made are beautiful. hope you have a nice weekend. (((((((hugs))))))))
Love,
Cindy

jaymact1 said...

Glad you are feeling beter today. Sounds as if you had a fair old time with the Pearly King  and Queen you don't seem to hear so much about them thes days do you.  Love Joan.

sunnybethe said...

So interesting~Thank you and I hope you feel better

hugs,  Bethe    

dklars said...

Hope you are feeling better soon.  Very interesting history, thanks for sharing.  ~~Kath~~

ally123130585918 said...

This was really interesting Jan ~ and the photographs are lovely ~ so glad you are feeling a bit better than you did yesterday ~ Ally x

mariealicejoan said...

I did enjoy learning all about the Pearly Kings and Queens Jan and also the photographs!  How fascinating.  Thanks ever so much for taking the time to share it with us!  Much appreciated!
love,
Marie
http://ayearatoakcottage.blogspot.com/

cayasm said...

Great post Jan I loved watching the Pearly Kings an Queens my time in the pubs we used them a lot at one time or other for charity events, great fun, and it was also the costermongers that started rhyming slang so they could talk withour fear of other listening to their buisness,. Lovely dip into History.

hope you are well

Yasmin
xx

blpltt said...

Apart from being fascinating that was instructive!  Lovely pictures, and very interesting to know the meaning of the patterns.  I should think they have to be very choosy about their dry cleaners - to strike a mundane note ;o)
Hope you're on the up now, Jan.
Bunny xx

sugarsweet056 said...

Wonderful post!!!! Enjoyed it all. :)
Have a good wkend.
Hugs,
Sugar

jjdolfin9 said...

Very, very interesting entry Jan.  I love when you Englander's tell tales about people and places there.
Hugs, Joyce

lanurseprn said...

Jan, I loved this story! Those outfits are so ornate and beautiful. The time it must take to create such an outfit!!  Thank you for sharing this with us. Very interesting.
Love,
Pam xoxox

lsfp1960 said...

Very interesting,  I had never heard of this before.  Thanks, Jan...for sharing the story and pictures with us.   Linda in Washington state  

hugsdoodlewacky said...

((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU)))))))))))Just wanted to stop by and say hi,will come back and read it later.  :)

lindaggeorge said...

Gosh, I'd forgotten about Pearly Kings & Queens, I suppose I thought they didn't exist anymore. Thanks for this interesting entry. What with this and my Horsehoe Tree, it's amazing the things you find out from Journals!!

Linda xx.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/lindaggeorge/GeorgeMansions/

labdancer51 said...

Thanks for the interesting info Jan,  I had no idea there was so much to being a Pearly King or Queen. Many years ago I went with friends to the Isle of Dogs in London and we visited a pub that had the Pearlies in, we were made very welcome and had a wonderful and unforgettable evening. :o)

Love Sandra xxxx

oddb0dkins said...

Thanks Jan, I've often wondered how the tradition started. Quite a fascinating tale.

B. x

jmoqueen said...

That made really interesting reading :o)  Love the pics   Hope you feel better soon x

Jenny

http://journals.aol.co.uk/Jmoqueen/MyLife

pamal3 said...

Thanks for that Jan. Great to learn more about traditions. I didn't know about Flower pots and Donkey Carts! All the pearly's are great and look fabulous. I hope you are getting plenty of rest to re-charge the batteries. Love Pam xx

jckfrstross said...

have a good week:)

Deb

madcobug said...

Very interesting Jan. That was a lot of buttons to sew on. Great pictures. Helen

jlocorriere05 said...

You must have sneaked this entry in just after I came over to see if you'd posted yesterday! Lol! I've seen some of the pearly kings and queens up at Greenwich when I visited the Cutty Sark. I love their suits, such a lot of hard work must go into them. Thanks for the story of Henry Croft, very interesting! Jeannette xx  http://journals.aol.co.uk/jlocorriere05/Welcometomytravels/  

zoepaul6968 said...

Now pearly kings and queens are right up my street having been fortunate enough to have spent my youth in the east end.Great fun and the schools all join in with the fund raising events,ahhh that took me back thanx zoe xxxxxxxxxx
http://journals.aol.co.uk/zoepaul6968/domestic-chaos/

elainey2465 said...

Thats really interesting Jan - thanks for sharing. Laine xxx

jeanno43 said...

What wonderful pictures of the Pearly King and Queen.  Pearlies have always fascinated me.  Thank you, Jan, for giving us the history which I certainly did not know.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

maudlinmawther said...


Oh was interested in costermonger stuff Im sure that Barbara Winsdors "how do you think you are" prog was about the costermongers. I go to London quite a bit and love all the not so famous points of interest.....my next mission is the statue in the church! Thank you for your comments on mine....I must learn to put pics and stuff on mine compared to yours mine is dead boring!

jennyp51 said...

I enjoyed that, really interesting.  Thank you.
Jenny <><

cacklinrosie101 said...

Now the Pearly kings and queens is something I'd never heard of.  Fascinating, and the costumes...goodness, so ornate.  Thanks for sharing the pictures and the history.  Hope you keep feeling better.  Love xx Chris

astoriasand said...

What a brilliant posting Jan.I have realy enjoyed reading the history of the Pearly Kings and Queens.Loved the pictures. I would have loved the sing song too LOL!! Though  sad to know you have not been feeling too good.Prayers said your soon feeling much better.In my thoughts .You Take Care and God Bless Kath.astoriasand http://journals.aol.co.uk/astoriasand/MYSIMPLERHYMES

kirkbyj05 said...

Hope you are well on the mend now Jan.  I loved this entry and remember well the entry about it last year too.
I'm so glad he kept his promise to you all.  Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to enjoy your pictures or entry.
Smashing!  Very interseting indeed.
Hugs
Jeanie xxxx

siennastarr said...

How very interesting that was, Jan!  I love the way I learn so many new things about your country, and the many customs that go along with it.

Loved the pictures!


Do hope you are feeling better~

Much love
Jackie

mleppard06 said...

interesting entry, i like the pearly king and queens but didn't know the history surrounding them. thanks. take care mrs t xx
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mleppard06/eternity/

beckiepainton said...

I wonde rif the buttons glow under uv light.Why the hell did i think of that??! Beckie x

cayasm said...

You've been tagged by me

Yasmin
xx

coelha said...

What a beautiful story and tradition!  :)  I can't imagine letting a 13 year old boy off to make a life for himself..  What an inspiration he was.  Julie :)

aimer said...

What a fascinating history and I love the photographs. I learned so much, thank you, I did indeed today's entry.--Sheria

plieck30 said...

Jan this is sooo interesting. Thank you for taking the time to post it. I don't comment often as with my dial up it takes forever to get into your journal but I do when I have time. Was determined to wait it out tonight and I'm glad I did. Paula

mortonlake said...

very interesting jan            never new all this       see,you learn something new every day,  hope you feeling ok??  take care   love  mort xxxx

nedmoh said...

Hi Jan ,love all your photos .Thank you for the infro on the Pearly Kings and Queens it makes interesting reading , you researched it well .Nice sunny morning ,just off to school again ....love you ....Jeanxx

ukgal36 said...

i loved this! i sang along as soon as i read the entry title...LOL
have a good week
L

sylviam4000 said...

I loved this entry Jan, thanks for a good read - also the pics.
Hope this finds you well. Take care.
Love Sylvia

gryphondear said...

Truly a fascinating look at a rare group of people.
;^) Jan tGryphon
PS Tag, you're it. See http://journals.aol.com/gryphondear/Gryphondears-Word-of-thhe e-Day/entries/2008/04/10/gryphons-word-of-the-day-april-11-2008/2205 for the rules of the game.

britsal said...

Wonderfully educational entry today Jan. Loved it! Love Sal
http://journals.aol.co.uk/britsal/This-Perfect-Life/

rachealcarol said...

I never knew the history of the Pearly King and Queens Jan, they were just people my Mom and Nan would mention, and I've never thought to look it up.  I so much enjoyed your entry.  It's like a missing piece of a jigsaw is found, when you read something so interestingly written that fills a gap of knowledge.  

Aunt Kitty seems the sort that took no nonsence and got on with things in a most caring way.  Another genuine person.  Thoughts for the the funeral.

I'm glad you're more yourself these days. L.v.Rache