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News > Alumni News > Herding Sheep over London Bridge

Herding Sheep over London Bridge

Gavin Keegan (51-56C) and his brother, Robin granted Freedom of the City of London
23 Jan 2015
Alumni News
The granting of Freedom of the City of London apparently dates back to the twelve hundreds and was originally a licence to trade within the square mile of the City.  It was often restricted to members of the Guilds and Livery Companies who would insist that the highest standards of workmanship were maintained by Freemen. My brother Robin and I were each granted the Freedom in a joint ceremony in 1988 as a result of our membership of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators (now The Honourable Company of Air Pilots) and, according to the Clerk to the Corporation of London, ours was the first joint ceremony of two brothers on record.
 
The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, one of the oldest City Livery Companies, some years ago decided to resurrect the ancient right of Freemen to trade in the City by herding sheep across London Bridge.  The event is actually a charitable one and the 'fee' of £50 is divided equally between the Woolmen's charity and the Lord Mayor's charity. We applied and were very fortunate to gain a place as between 600-700 Freeman had applied. On the Sunday in question, Robin and I together with our wives, met at London Bridge in good time for our appointed 'slot', and donned our Livery robes and Caps before joining the drive. We were photographed with the Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen who farms on Exmoor and knows the school.
 
The sheep, from Bedfordshire, were well looked after by the farmer and his assistants under the stern gaze of an RSPCA Inspector.  'Our' drive was over a cordoned off 150 metres from the south end of the bridge to approximately the centre where another group of Freemen took over. 
 
The driving was actually done by the farmer’s helpers, although the sheep seemed to know the form, so it took no great effort to move them along the route, despite one of the sheep making a bid for freedom.
 
We were delighted to take part in this event, especially in unseasonably warm autumn weather.
 
Gavin Keegan (51-56C)
 

 

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