On this dull October afternoon the Pearly Kings and Queens come from all over London to St.
On this dull October afternoon the Pearly Kings and Queens come from all over London to St. Martins in the Fields, in the heart of London's West End, for their annual Harvest Thanksgiving Festival.
With their highly-coloured plumed hats, and glinting pearly buttons woven in serried ranks on their costumes, these people, who are by tradition part of the London scene, brought Cockney laughter and gay chatter to gladden the Festival. After taking a full part in the religious ceremony the Pearly Kings and Queens took tea with the Vicar of St. Martins, the Reverend Austin Williams.
The history of the Pearly Kings is somewhat obscure. They are a steadily dwindling race, now being only about two-hundred families concentrated around London's inner boroughs. Each district has its Pearly King, and if he is married with a family, as most if not all of them are, a Queen, Prince and Princess as well.
Their origins are not recorded, although it is believed that the dress that we know today was first worn at a Guy Fawkes Festival fancy-dress carnival in the nineteenth century. The first recorded Pearly King, who are by trade, mostly costeraongers, was a Mr Henry Croft, who died in 1930. Some say that the distinctive dress was originally a caricature of the attire of the wealthy aristocracy of Georgian times, but there is no historic proof of this. The Pearly Kings and Queens today give their services for charities of all kinds, and they are in much demand at sociale and other functions that it has for many become a full-time occupation.