Custom: The Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary
About: Said to have started in the 17th century, barrels coated in tar are set alight and carried through through the streets on villagers’ backs. Thousands of people turn out around November 5th, to dodge the flames as the barrel carriers run at the crowds.
Custom: The Lord Mayor’s Show
About: Over 800 years old, and still going strong, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a huge spectacle. It’s the longest and old procession in the world, accompanying the newly elected Lord Mayor as he or she travels to Westminster to swear allegiance to the crown and begin their year in office.
Custom: The Festival of St Cecilia
About: An annual celebration of the patron saint of Music, St Cecilia, and all musicians in general. All proceeds and donations goes to Help Musicians UK, that helps thousands of musicians in hardship each year.
Custom: Braughing Old Man’s Day
About: A man called Matthew Wall, in the 16th century, supposedly had a lucky escape from being buried alive, when the pallbearers slipped on some wet leaves as they were carrying his coffin to Braughing church. The fall jolted him awake, and he lived to be an old man. A bequest left in his will commemorates that day – local school children sweep the path down to the church, and the current owner of his cottage paying the church £1 every year.
Custom: Harvest of the Sea Festival Service
About: Traditional harvest festival ceremony near the old site of Billingsgate Fish Market. A fishmonger stall is set up inside the church, and the wares are blessed by the pastor. The service itself is carefully curated, with fishy verses and songs about the sea.
Custom: London Bridge Sheep Drive
About: Exercising their centuries-old right (as freemen of the city) to drive sheep across London Bridge, the Worshipful Company of Woolmen annually herd a flock back and forth. Unfortunately health and safety precludes it from being a fun public event, with it happening behind big barriers and many security guards, so this picture will have to do.
Name: Cherry Chard Wild Rice
Chef: Jamie Oliver
Recipe: Cook the rice in a pan, steaming chopped chard in a colander above it. Finely chop the cherries and mix with rice wine vinegar and red wine vinegar. Slice the walnuts, then the chard. Drain the rice, add the cherry dressing with the chard and crumble in the feta. Toss, season, and sprinkle over the walnuts.
Custom: Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival
About: Charitable cockney folk, dressed in black suits and hats covered in pearly buttons, welcome the changing of the seasons with an afternoon of morris dancing, maypole-ing, and ‘Maybe its because I’m a Londoner’-ing.
Custom: Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager
About: The oldest rowing race in the world; up to six apprentice watermen compete along the Thames, racing between London Bridge and Chelsea. The winner’s prize is the traditional Company of Watermen red coat and badge.
Name: Gem lettuce, mint and spring onion
Chef: Ed Smith
Recipe: Separate lettuce leaves, leaving intact. Chop the inner core finely. Sprinkle with mint. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, spring onions and pepper together and dress the salad.
Name: Smoked Mackerel, Potato and Watercress Salad
Chef: Margot Henderson
Recipe: Break the mackerel into large pieces. Cook potatoes in a pan of salted water. Drain and leave to cool a little. Slice in half lengthways. Trim the watercress and wash the leaves. Mix in a bowl with a dijon vinaigrette, and serve.
Name: Grilled little gem, peas, pancetta and mint
Chef: Tim Siadatan
Recipe: Griddle little gem for 3-5 minutes. Fry the pancetta and mint stalks for 2 minutes, followed by the garlic for another 2. Add the stock, bring to the boil and add peas and little gem. Simmer for 10 minutes, before stirring in vinegar, butter and chopped mint leaves. Season and serve.