Thursday, November 6, 2014

The London Mayor’s State Coach

The London Mayor’s State Coach is located in the Museum of London. This special coach is over 250 years old. It is still used in the Lord Mayor’s Show every November to carry the new Lord Mayor through the streets of the City. It is pulled by six horses.

Many of the features of the coach emphasise the importance of London’s port and of the City’s trade. The coachman’s seat is supported by tritons, mythical sea creatures and his footrest is formed from a scallop shell. The coach is supported at each corner by child angels, or cherubs, representing four continents: Asia, Africa, America and Europe. The City’s coat of arms, including fire-breathing dragons, decorates the back of the coach.

In April 1757 Sir Charles Asgill, knowing that he would become the next Lord Mayor, persuaded the City’s aldermen to give money for a ‘New Grand State Coach’. The coach was ordered from Joseph Berry of Leather Lane, Holborn, for the fixed price of £860. It was designed by Asgill’s architect, Sir Robert Taylor. The state coach was ready in time for the Lord Mayor’s procession in November 1757 and has been used ever since.

Three of the main coach panels show the City’s guardian spirit, or Genius. In the back panel she received goods from around the world, including elephant tusks, an Arabian horse and a lion. The front panel depicts a female figure representing Hope, who points at the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The smaller side panels represent moral qualities or virtues: Truth, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude.  

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