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Pearly Kings & Queens

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Pearly Kings & Queens

Is this an icon?


Pearly Kings & Queens

Do you know the difference between a Smother Suit and a Skeleton Suit? Sounds a little sinister, but it’s actually a question of style. If you are a Pearly King you can choose to totally smother your suit in thousands of pearly buttons or pick out specific patterns (a skeleton). Following the tradition of the first ever Pearlie, street sweeper Henry Croft, a Pearly King must design and sew his own suit. He might use one of the traditional patterns handed down in the pearly “families”. Each symbol has a meaning – such as a horseshoe for luck, a heart for charity, playing cards to remind us that life is a gamble, and donkey carts to represent the costermongers. The costermongers were the boisterous market traders whose habit of decorating the seams of their clothes with buttons as well as their generosity and strong sense of community inspired the young Henry to emulate them. Henry’s idea was for his fabulous pearly suits to make him the centre of attention to enable him raise money for those less fortunate than himself. A proud tradition that still continues, more than 125 years later.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

As the pearly King of Finsbury. I would suggest that the pearly Kings and Queens are an English icon. They spend their own time helping and assisting others who require help in raising funds for charities. I would suggest that you visit our own website: www.pearlysociety.co.uk It will tell you why we are still around.

John Walters

Pearly Kings and Queens are part of London as much as the Beefeaters and Horse Guards. They raise loads for charity too. Keep up the good work and long may you reign. Re "localised" comment - thats part of their history!!! A Pearly King and Queen for each London borough - more English than the Mayor of London!!!
Dee Steed

all my fondest memories are of being from a large family of pearly kings and queens dating back to robert and phoebe marriott in the lates 1800's, the picture you display is of my great grandmother beatrice and my grandfather john. they did so much and gave so much to others generously and with the traditional cockney goodwill and humour.
kim o'shea

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye