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Pearly kings and queens crowned in right old East End cockney knees-up

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 May 2012 | UPDATED: 15:21 09 May 2012

Traditional blessing of the Pearly kings and queens outside the pub by Hackney vicar Rob Wickham

Traditional blessing of the Pearly kings and queens outside the pub by Hackney vicar Rob Wickham

Carmen Valino - off shift

Pearly kings and queens had a right old cockney knees-up on Sunday for one of their rare coronations—in an East End boozer.

They crowned three kings, four queens and a princess at Bethnal Green’s Carpenter’s Arms pub—or rub-a-dub, to the rhyming slang diehards—in a tradition going back to the 1870s.

Shaun Austin was crowned Pearly King of Tower Hamlets. Normally his trouble-and-strife would be chosen queen, but this time the regal honour went to Lorraine Wells.

John Scott was anointed Pearly King of Mile End, Victoria Grove made Pearly Queen of Bow, Nicki Borer Pearly Queen of Stratford and Steward Vallely Pearly King of the City of London.

Youngest were Stewart’s dustbin lids (kids), 11-year-old Miah, now Pearlie Queen of Hoxton, and eight-year-old Ella, Pearly Princess of the City.

London Pearlies sew their suits, hats and dresses with hundreds of pearl buttons, raising money for charity with colourful appearances and fund-raising.

Most are descended from the original 28 London Pearly families, following the footsteps of their founder Henry Croft, an East End costermonger born 150 years ago who spent a lifetime helping the poor.

Sunday’s big bash began with the traditional blessing outside the pub by the vicar from St John-at-Hackney, The Rev Rob Wickham, because it was too crowded with 250 people crammed inside.

It was followed by lashings of jellied eels, whelks and fish’n’chips, washed down with a pigs ear (beer), then the knees-up to music from the Barrow Boys—leaving most feeling cream-crackered at the end.

The last mass Pearly crowning was in 1963 in a pub in Hoxton, but they couldn’t remember which one—probably too Brahms at the time.

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