Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 1 February 2015

Beep, beep! Sheep cause traffic jam

A total of 20 sheep were driven across London Bridge in an ancient ceremony
A total of 20 sheep were driven across London Bridge in an ancient ceremony

Central London was gridlocked with traffic today but rather than the beeping of horns there was the bleating of sheep.

Crowds of passers-by flocked to see the unusual spectacle as 20 Suffolk and Texel sheep were herded across London Bridge.

The woolly creatures took a trip over the Thames as the Lord Mayor of the City of London exercised his ancient right to drive them across.

Traffic was redirected as Liverymen and Freemen of the City walked the animals across.

The event was organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, one of 109 Liveries in the capital, to raise money for the Lord Mayor's appeal and the company's own charitable trust.

The last sheep drive, in 2009, raised £50,000.

Beneficiaries this year include the City Music Foundation, Futures for Kids, Gifford Wood Appeal, the Harold Samuel collection and the Lord Mayor's scholarship programme.

Bill Clark, Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, said: "We want people not only to witness but also to take part in a uniquely British tradition. This is something that dates back to the 1100s.

"The point of this event is to raise awareness of the London Liveries and the important work that they do with charities."

The Freedom of the City dates back to the 12th century and is now largely an honorary title.

The right to drive sheep across London Bridge was originally granted to allow traders to bring sheep into the City for sale, with other privileges once including being allowed to be drunk and disorderly without being arrested and to carry a naked sword in public.

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