The week prior to me doing this section of the Thames path was Swan upping time, this is when they do the annual swan count on certain stretches of the Thames. I avoided walking that week because of the crowds. This is a tradition that dates back to the 12th cent. when the Crown claimed ownership of all the swans. The Queen's swan uppers wear a scarlet uniform and fly the royal flag.
Nowadays ownership is shared between the Queen, the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers who, for some reason, were granted rights in the 15th cent. In the ceremony cygnets are weighed, health checked and then ringed with ID numbers. As swans are no longer a major food source for the Monarchy this exercise is now one of conservation.
(photographs from google images)
As I walked along the same stretch of river the following week I couldn't believe the number of swans.
|If you want to follow my walk along the Thames Path, it is all on my other blog here|