Ho ho ho and a barrel of rum!
On Saturday 31 March visitors to the Tower of London can witness a unique tradition when the captain and crew of HMS Northumberland march through the Tower of London accompanied by Yeoman Warders in luxurious State Dress and a Corps of Drums to deliver a barrel of rum in the colourful ceremony of the Constable’s Dues.
Historically, every ship that came upstream to the City had to moor at Tower Wharf to unload a portion of its cargo for the Constable and thus enjoy the protection of the Tower of London guns. In the past such bounty would have included oysters, mussels, cockles, rushes and wine.
During the ceremony the captain and his crew will be challenged for entry to the Tower by the Yeoman Gaoler, the second-in-command of the Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters), who will be armed with his famous axe! The captain and his naval ratings will march through the Tower of London to Tower Green, where the Constable will be presented with the barrel of rum. Afterwards, the participants will retire to the Queen's House, one of the few original timber- framed buildings remaining in the City of London following the Great Fire, to sample the contents!
This ceremony happens only once a year, so visitors to the Tower on this day will delight in a rare chance to see all the pomp and ceremony of the Tower of London continuing in to the 21st century.