If you are in the area on Monday (14th Sept), then there will be a chance to see a fairly rare ceremony take place at the Tower of London.
Officers and sailors from the Dutch naval ship HNLMS Johan de Witt will take part in the Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues, and will present a barrel of wine to the General the Lord Dannatt, the Constable of the Tower.
This event dates back to the 14th century when kings believed it was their right to extract tolls from vessels entering London.
The Constable of the Tower collected these ‘Dues’ on the King’s behalf before any ship could continue down the Thames. Nowadays the tolls are ceremonially presented in the form of barrels of rum, wine and even oysters, cockles and mussels.
Captain René Luyckx will lead his crew from the ship’s berth at Greenwich to the Tower’s West Gate, where they will be challenged for entry to the Tower of London by the Yeoman Gaoler, armed with his infamous axe. The captain and his shore party will then march through the Tower, accompanied by Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) in red and gold State Dress and a Corps of Drums, to deliver the barrel of wine to the Tower’s Constable on Tower Green.
The ceremony can be watched in part from outside the Tower as the sailors march to the gates and demand entry, and takes place at 12:30pm, although you need to be inside the Tower to watch the handover of the barrel of wine.
Photos from 2012, when HMS Liverpool carried out the ceremony