One of the most ancient ceremonies associated with the City of London was revived on Wednesday (29 October) before a specially invited audience in the city's Royal Courts of Justice.
One of the most ancient ceremonies associated with the City of London was revived on Wednesday (29 October) before a specially invited audience in the city's Royal Courts of Justice. The ceremony was "the rendering of the Quit Rents and Services" by the Corporation of London to the Queen's Rememberancer.
The ceremony, which dates back at least seven hundred years, represents the paying of nominal rents to the Queen for lands or property held by the City of London Corporation. The tradition is so old that the exact location of the two pieces of land involved is not known.
Wednesday's ceremony was attended by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Murray Fox, who took part in the ceremonial.
The occasion was president over by the Queen's Rememberancer, Mr. I.H. Jacob, who addressed the audience before the ceremony in which he described its history and ancient meaning.
The rendering of "Quit Rents and Services" was last performed before the Cursitor Baron in the Courts of Exchequer in Westminster Hall, in 1958. Shortly afterwards both the post of Cursitor Baron and the Court of Exchequer ceased to exist.
Mr. Jacob described the rents and services as "peculiar and feudal in origin and character". The first rent to be "rendered" to Mr. Jacob on behalf of the Crown by Mr. Stanley Heather, the Comptroller and City Solicitor of the Corporation of London, consisted of a bill-hook and a hatchet in payment for a piece of "waste land called The Moors in the county of shropshire".
The second rent consisted of "six horse-shoes and sixty-one nails" as payment for "a tenement called The Forge in the Parish of St. Clement Danes in the country of Middlesex". The exact location of The Forge has given rise to a great deal of research and speculation, but the most favoured Suggestion is that it lay in the vicinity of what is now the Strand in London.
It is believed that the rent for The Forge was first paid by a blacksmith, Walter Le Brun, who set up as a farrier near the tilting ground of the Knights Templars sometime in the early 13th century.
The Quit Rent for the Shropshire land - The Moors - was first mentioned in the Roll of Shropshire Sergeantires in 1211 -- four years before magna Carta. During the intervening centuries the rights to both properties passed into the ownership of the Corporation of London. that is why it was the Corporation's Comptroller who was the central figure in Wednesday's ceremony.
In the first part of the ceremony, the Comptroller had to present that the bill-hook was blunt and the hatchet sharp. By tradition the Quit Rent was two knives - one to be so sharp it would cut a hazel rod with one blow, and the other to be so blunt that it would bend in green cheese. The reason for these different attributes is not known.
In the second part of the ceremony the very large horse-shoes presented by the Comptroller were themselves hundreds of years old. They were of a type designed for the large Flemish stallions used in battle or tournaments. These horses were trained to lash out with their fore-legs and the projecting horse-shoes would inflict injuries on their opponents' mounts.
In order that Wednesday's unique recreation of the old ceremony could be recorded for posterity, a special dispensation was acquired to allow cameras to film inside the Royal Courts of Justice. Normally cameras are not allowed to be used in any British court of law.