Ship sails the Thames to Tower of London for historic re-enactment ceremony

A scene out of the 14th century came to life as a sea vessel docked at the Tower this weekend to pay its dues.

British naval ship HMS Liverpool sailed up to the Tower from West India Docks, South Quay, last Saturday for the annual Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues.

During the Middle Ages, successive Kings believed it was their right to extract tolls from vessels on the Thames, and the Tower’s Constable was empowered to demand the tolls.

Past offerings have included barrels of rum, oysters, mussels and cockles, and this year, the Tower’s Constable, General Lord Richard Dannatt, was presented with a barrel of wine.

The ship’s crew was challenged for entry to the Tower by the Yeoman Gaoler armed with his infamous axe. The captain and his shore party then marched through the Tower to Tower Green, accompanied by Beefeaters in their red and gold State Dress and a Corps of Drums, to deliver the barrel of wine.

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Participants then retired to the Queen’s House to sample the contents.

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