In mid-November, twelve Oundle School pupils took part in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Show, an event which dates back to the 16th century and is one of the most well-known annual events in London.
Alongside pupils from Mossbourne Academy, Oundle pupils were representing The Worshipful Company of Grocers and after spending time planning the choreography and in rehearsals, they were invited to dinner at Grocers’ Hall the night before the show.
Pupil Shaan Diu (18) commented, “Rehearsals on the Friday began with us trying on costumes that were beautifully made specifically for the show the following day. The dance routine was to include waving umbrellas and flags and we were involved in planning the choreography.”
Under their costumes the pupils wore layers of warm clothing to keep warm on what was an icy autumnal Saturday. With paint on their faces, hats on their heads and props in hand they headed for the streets of London where they were positioned behind live camels.
Pupil, Millie Herring commented, “Working with the pupils from Mossbourne Academy was really successful. The two schools blended and it was a really enjoyable afternoon. Despite walking for hours and becoming increasingly tired, the crowds kept our energy levels up.”
Shaan added, “Crowds of people lined the streets of London and the pressure increased as we had to keep in time with one another whilst interacting with the ‘audience’. To be a part of something so inspiring on Remembrance Day was incredible.
As the crowds grew larger, we twirled our umbrellas and side-stepped to the drum beat. Our nerves faded and we relaxed and began to enjoy ourselves more with each step. Reaching Grocers’ Hall, we all felt a distinct sense of achievement knowing that we had been a part of something great and had helped to spread joy throughout the streets of London. This experience was unforgettable and to share this day with so many people was something very special.”
Second Master, Simon King concluded, “The pupils were terrific company throughout and demonstrated that they were quick to learn, adaptable and bursting with initiative. Working with fellow pupils from Mossbourne was a great experience.”
The School's relationship with the Grocers’ Company dates back to 1556 when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil.
The Worshipful Company of Grocers is one of the 109 Livery Companies of the City of London and ranks second in their order of precedence. Established in 1345, it is one of the original Great Twelve City Livery Companies. It is said that the Grocers' Company used to be first in the order, until Queen Elizabeth I, as Honorary Master of the Mercers' Company, found herself in procession, after her coronation, behind the Grocers' camel which was emitting unfortunate smells! As a result, the Mercers were promoted.
The Lord Mayor's Show has floated, rolled, trotted, marched and occasionally fought its way through over 800 years of London history, surviving the Black Death and the blitz to arrive in the 21st century as one of the world’s best-loved pageants.
Thanks to the ancient and justified paranoia of King John, every newly-elected Lord Mayor of London has to leave the safety of the City of London and travel up the Thames to Westminster to swear loyalty to the Crown. Over the centuries the Mayor's journey became one of London's favourite rituals. It moved from river barges to horseback and then into the magnificent State Coach, and around it grew a splendidly rowdy and joyful mediæval festival known as the Lord Mayor's Show.
The modern procession is over three and a half miles long and fills the whole space between Bank and Aldwych from 11am until about 2.30pm, cheered by a crowd of around half a million people and watched live on the BBC by millions more. There are fewer sword fights these days but the floats are grander than ever and it's a great day out for every generation.
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2016, the School completed its ambitious SciTec project, uniting Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. The development includes the ground-breaking Patrick Engineering Centre, a new Mathematics department and an extension to its sixteen state-of-the-art Science laboratories. Oundle has now embarked on a detailed Sports MasterPlan which will significantly upgrade sporting facilities across the School by 2020, incorporating the building of a new Sports Centre housing a fifty metre swimming pool and an eight court sports hall.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11.