Boar’s Head Ceremony 2023 dates back to 1343

Boar’s Head Ceremony 2023 dates back to 1343

The annual Boar’s Head ceremony is a special day for the Worshipful Company of Butchers and this year was no exception.

The 2023 Boar’s Head Ceremony gets ready to process from Butchers’ Hall to Mansion House.
Image courtesy of Phil McCarthy and WCB.

It follows a tradition that dates back to 1343 and the ceremony is one of the oldest in The City of London.

Every year the Butchers Livery parades through The City streets to Mansion House to present The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of the City of London with a ‘boar’s head.’


It all started back in the 14th century when the monks at Greyfriars Monastery complained to the City Authorities that butchers were throwing away “offal and ordure” in the public street.

So, in 1343 said Authorities gave the butchers a piece of land, next to the Fleet (Flete) river to clean their livestock’s entrails and granted them permission to dispose of the offal in the ‘Flete Ditch.’

By granting them this the butchers were required, in perpetuity, to repair and maintain a wharf and render a boar’s head, each year to the Lord Mayor of London at their own cost.

As Court Assistant at the Livery Julien Pursglove explained: “Despite the fact it has been many years since we have actually washed any beast entrails, or have for that matter, disposed of any offal in the abominable waters of the River Fleet, a contract is a contract – and so we adhere to the “for ever” clause in that 1343 agreement, and continue to pay up every year, despite the passage of almost 700 years.”

Needless to say the paraded head is fake but The Master of the Butchers still presents a real boar’s head to the Lord Mayor in Mansion House in a private ceremony as payment for a piece of land the Livery no longer uses or rents!

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