swan upping

Photo credit: Business Insider. 

Photo credit: Business Insider. 

Swan Upping. Various locations on the River Thames.

An annual ceremony, dating back 900 years, in which mute swans on the River Thames are rounded up, caught, ringed, and then released. This is undertaken from boats (with large banners) by Swan Uppers. They wear traditional garb of scarlet jackets frimmed with gold, white cricketing trousers, and caps (into which a swan's feather may be tucked}. The ceremony is held over five days in the third week of July.

The Thames swans, which were prized as a culinary delicacy, are thought to have been brought here from Cyprus in the 12th or 13 centuries. 

By tradition the ownership of the swans on the Thames is shared equally between the Queen, and two City livery companies: the Vintners' and Dyers'. The main purpose of the event today is to conduct a census of swans, and to check their helath.

The Swan Upping process starts at Sunbury and ends up at Abingdon, with delays to pass the various locks in between. A popular place from which to view Swan Upping is Marlow. 

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