No postings for a while

Swan Upping from the Bridge Henley On Thames 16th July 2014

I apologise for not posting on this blog for a while. Lots of things have been happening locally – this post appeared on my other blog, and as this count of swans in traditional style in held in many places up the Thames I am including it here

We waited for forty five minutes longer than the predicted time for the Swan Uppers arrive. Before the arrival of the flotilla there seemed to be no Swans around at all, then we noticed these making there way up stream

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The swans settled just before New Street, by the boat houses and the ceremony was carried out there.

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When they arrived they surrounded the Swans

As this is the first time I have seen Swan Upping – here is a page from Wikipedia to put everything into perspective

Swan Upping
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Queen’s Swan Uppers (right), on the Thames at Abingdon
The skiffs surround the swans so that they can be more easily caught.

Swan Upping is an annual ceremonial and practical activity in Britain in which mute swans on the River Thames are rounded up, caught, marked, and then released.

Traditionally, the British Monarch retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but only exercises ownership on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries. This tradition dates from c. the 12th century;[dubious – discuss] It was formalised with a Royal Charter of Edward IV passed in 1482, establishing “How much land he must have which shall have a mark or game of swans”, preventing the claim of ownership of swans by “yeomen and husbandmen, and other persons of little reputation”.[1]

Swan Upping is a means of establishing a swan census through a process of ringing the swan’s feet and today also serves to check the health of swans. Swan Upping occurs annually during the third week of July. During the ceremony, the Queen’s, Vintners’ and the Dyers’ Swan Uppers row up the river in skiffs. Swans caught by the Queen’s Swan Uppers under the direction of the Swan Marker are unmarked, except for a ring linked to the database of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Those caught by the Dyers’ and Vintners are identified as theirs by means of a further ring on the other leg. Today, only swans with cygnets are caught and ringed. This gives a yearly snapshot as to how well Thames swans are breeding. Originally, rather than being ringed, the swans would be marked on the bill, a practice reflected in the pub name The Swan with Two Necks, a corruption of “The Swan with Two Nicks”.

On 20 July 2009, Queen Elizabeth II, as “Seigneur of the Swans,” attended the Swan Upping ceremony for the first time in her reign, and the first time that the monarch has personally watched the ceremony in centuries.

In 2012, because of flooding of the river from adverse weather, the ceremony was cancelled between Sunbury-on-Thames and Windsor, according to BBC News “for the first time in its 900-year history”.[2]

This is the video I managed to get, pushing the zoom on my Fuji camera to the limit! Sorry if it is slightly out of focus or shaky!

When the Swan Upping ceremony had been completed they rowed up river to Marsh Lock, the final part of the days procession which started at Marlow.

Here are some pictures of the Queens representative and the Vintners and Dyers as they pass under Henley On Thames Bridge

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This year we were not that lucky to have a grandstand view of the ceremony, but here is a You Tube video shot in 2007 which includes a close up of the action!

It is pleasant to be able to attend a free event in Henley On Thames – also part of our National Heritage. This followed close after the Regatta and Festival which are expensive commercial ventures.

 

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