The saying goes “After the Lord Mayor’s show comes the S**t cart“, in more polite circles this can be changed to “Dust cart or even Donkey cart”. It is used to emphasise something that is disappointing or mundane after a major, exciting or triumphal event. The saying can be traced back to the 16th century, but the show is older than the saying, the first recorded in the 13th century. The office of Lord Mayor dates from 1189, and it was a requirement of the charter establishing it that the mayor travelled to the royal enclave at Westminster to present himself to the monarch’s representatives to take an oath of loyalty to the Sovereign upon beginning his term. The event is officially listed in the City’s Civic Calendar and is known as “The Procession to the Royal Courts of Justice and Presentation of the Lord Mayor to the Chief Justices“. 2022s event took place at the weekend when Nicholas Lyons became the 694th Lord Mayor of London, but it’s not actually on the event that I want to focus, just a quirky little detail I discovered.
The processional route leaves the Mansion house and makes it’s way to St Pauls Cathedral and then moves south to then take Ludgate Hill. If you stand by the exit from St Pauls churchyard and look across Ludgate Hill there is a small stub of a street that sits just opposite Old Bailey.
Looking back towards Old Bailey 1930s (L) 2022 (R)
I’ve crossed and walked down this street countless times giving it no notice whatsoever, believing wrongly that it was an adjunct to Pilgrim Street that runs roughly parallel to Ludgate Hill.
It seems to have been in existence in the 13th century, but no mention of it’s name survives. Move forward three hundred years to the Tudor period and the street is truncated by changes to the line of the city walls with a small moat running along the axis of what by the 18th century becomes Pilgrim Street.
Jump forward again to the 1740s and it is shown as Cock Court, but is still a dead end and doesn’t intersect with Stonecutters Lane, the previous name for Pilgrim Street, which later morphs into Bridge Street.
And by the 19th century it has joined up with Pilgrim Street and Bridge Street
By the beginning of the 20th century Bridge Street has been cleared and widened to make the modern day Pilgrim Street and Cock Court has turned into St Martin’s Court (possibly down to Victorian prudish sentiments)
St Martin’s Court wasn’t around long, as by the end of the Second World War it had become known as Ludgate Court.
Ludgate Court went the same was as it’s predecessor and in roughly the same timespan. The reason for this is in a rather circuitous way to do with the start of this piece and the Lord Mayor’s Show.
I like to think that I’m fairly observant, but as I said earlier I gave the street not a second glance, I didn’t even notice it’s modern name. Today it is no longer Ludgate Court, it is called “Pageantmasters Court”
The show itself although a slightly lighthearted affair is maticulously planned event. There is even a walkthrough along the route in the early hours of the morning to make sure that everything runs smoothly. The organisation and the responsibility for the event falls to the Pageantmaster. The modern name of the court dates from 1993 and commemorates J.R. Snowdon, who was Pageantmaster responsible for the organisation of the Lord Mayor’s Shows between 1971 to 1991. Finding previous organisers proved difficult, but I did come across the fantastically named Louis Napoleon Parker a Dramatist who organised two parades in 1900-1901. Mr Snowdon with his twenty events has been eclipsed by his successor, Dominic Reid OBE who has been in charge since 1992.
Dominic Reid OBE