Pearly Kings and Queens at Covent Garden Fair; c 1970

Henry Grant

 
Pearly Kings and Queens at Covent Garden Fair; c 1970
4 0 c m
 
30cm
actual image size: 22cm x 22cm

Full image caption

In this photograph Pearlies are shown mingling with the crowds at Covent Garden Fair.
Also known as Pearly Kings and Queens, Pearlies wear distinctive clothes decorated with pearl buttons and collect money for charitable organisations. Here, a Pearly King and Queen can be seen in conversation at the fair, holding two collecting tins.
The first Pearly was an orphan named Henry Croft who raised money for charities. In 1911 the first 'Pearly' society was established. After Croft's death in 1930, a memorial was made to him bearing the inscription: 'In memory of Henry Croft who died January 1st 1930 aged 68 years. The original Pearly King.' It is now in the crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
The 'Original London Pearly Kings and Queens Association' was later set up, along with two rival organisations: the 'London Pearly Kings and Queens Society' and the 'Pearly Guild'. Each group is linked with a central London Church and raises money for London-based charities.

© Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London

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