When: 23rd June 2014 at 9.45am
Where: City of London
£: Free. The public are welcome to watch the cutting of the rose and follow the procession through the City.
What is it?
The Knollys Rose Ceremony is one of those quirks in British tradition which has always fascinated Contrary Life. The ceremony is held annually in June and begins with a rose being plucked from a garden in Seething Lane, in the City of London. The rose is then placed on an altar cushion and taken to Mansion House, where it is presented to the Mayor.
But why you ask? The Knollys Rose Ceremony commemorates an ancient City judgement which dates back to 1381 when the wife of Sir Robert Knollys bought a property opposite their house and turned it into a rose garden. She then built a bridge across Seething Lane to avoid the muddy conditions. Unfortunately she didn’t have the correct planning permission, so as a penalty she had to pay with a rose from her garden each year. The rose was presented to the then Mayor each year. As Sir Robert was a respected man the rose was merely a token payment.
The bridge has long since disappeared but the ceremony still takes place today.
These days the ceremony begins at the City’s oldest church, All Hallows by the Tower, where the Knollys family, the Mayor and the Company of Watermen and Lightermen begin a procession towards Seething Lane. Here a single rose is plucked and placed on an altar cushion to be taken to Mansion House, where it is presented to the Mayor.
This year the Knollys Rose Ceremony will take place on Monday 23rd June. Entry to the presentation at Mansion House is by invitation only, but the public are welcome to watch the cutting of the rose and follow the procession through the City.
The procession is well worth watching to see the wonderfully dressed Company of Watermen and Lightermen.
Below is a video of this unique tradition, showing the plucking of the rose and the colourful procession.