Ceremony of the Constable's Dues 2012
This Saturday (28th January), British naval ship HMS Liverpool will take part in the colourful Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues at the Tower of London. The annual event can be traced back to the 14th century and is related to the Crown’s authority over the City of London. During the Middle Ages, successive Kings believed it was their right to extract tolls from vessels on the Thames. On the King’s behalf, the Constable of the Tower of London was empowered to demand these tolls as a perquisite of his office. Past offerings have included barrels of rum, or oysters, mussels and cockles; this year, the Tower’s Constable, General Lord Richard Dannatt, will be presented with a barrel of wine.
This will be one of HMS Liverpool’s final voyages, as the ship is to be decommissioned in the spring after 30 years in service. The last Batch 2 Type 42 destroyer in service, she was commissioned on 12 May 1982 and has seen service in the Iraq War, patrolled the Caribbean to help with the crackdown on drug smuggling and finally served in the Libyan conflict in 2011 where she became the first ship to return fire in anger in 30 years.
Commander Colin N O Williams BSc Royal Navy will be at the helm of the destroyer which will berth at West India Docks (South Quay). From there the ancient ritual will begin when the commander of the ship leads his crew to the Tower’s West Gate, where they will be challenged for entry to the Tower by the Yeoman Gaoler armed with his infamous axe. The captain and his shore party will then march through the Tower of London to Tower Green, accompanied by Yeoman Warders (commonly known as ‘Beefeaters’) in red and gold State Dress and a Corps of Drums, to deliver the barrel of wine (representing the ‘Dues’) to the Tower’s Constable, Lord General Richard Dannatt.
Afterwards, the participants will retire to the Queen's House, one of the few original timber framed buildings remaining in the City following the Great Fire, to sample the contents.
Visitors to the Tower of London will be able to delight in the colour, noise and spectacle of this unique and long-standing ceremony. The band for this year’s ceremony is being provided by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Collingwood.
For further information or for media accreditation, please contact Ruth Howlett in the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 020 3166 6338 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower of London images can also be viewed and downloaded immediately, free of charge for editorial purposes, by registering on the website http://hrp.newsteam.co.uk
Notes to Editors
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.
We receive no funding from the Government or the Crown, so we depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. The palaces are owned by the Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
We believe in four principles. Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world. Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work. Registered charity number 1068852
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