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Beating the Bounds of

The Ward of Aldersgate


18th June 2018

On, or adjacent to St Botolph's Day every year, we gather to celebrate and recreate the traditional Beating of the Boundary of the Ward of Aldersgate. Young apprentices are marched to all corners of the Ward to ensure they know the extent of the Ward's jurisdiction. Good fun, followed by lunch.

The tradition of Beating the Bounds pre-dates 1066 as explained by our Master, Dr Antony Richards, as he welcomed upwards of 65 people to the 2018 Beat. 

During his introduction he read from the parish register of Turnworth in Dorset where it stated that along with the vicar and other adults that four boys also took part in the preamble around the boundaries that parish in 1747. ‘The boys were whipped by way of remembrance, and stopping their crying they were given a half-pence’.

This year the ‘Beat’ was to be the same as in previous years, and yet different in certain respects. For a start the pupils from Prior Weston School, Thaxted Primary School and the City of London School for Girls were not beaten but tossed and given chocolate coins for their trouble with not a tear in sight. The usual 2mm thick willow wands were replaced with ‘proper’ pea willow sticks 1cm thick and much more like those used in 1747! 

The procession took our group from Postman’s Park to the garden of St. Anne’s and St. Agnes’s and on to Pewterers’ Hall and Plaisterers’ Hall where the clerk, Nigel Bamping, welcomed our emsemble and gave us a short history of the largest livery hall in the City of London. Refreshments were also served and gratefully received on such a hot day. From here it was on to Barber-Surgeons’ Hall and Ironmongers’ Hall where again refreshments were provided. Next was the club tree and the northern extremity of Aldersgate before our final Beat at the Barbican Estate Office. It was here that instead of the usual wine being served that some members, led by our Master, were introduced to the art of sabrage as a number of champagne bottles were opened with a sabre adding to the fun of the event.

For most it was then off to a local Italian restaurant for a sustaining 3-course lunch.

Thanks must go to all those who performed the Beats so expertly at each location with especial gratitude to all the boys and girls who came along, some in costume, who entertained us at every opportunity with song and dance.


Click on an image below to expand and scroll through.

Antony Richards


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