A historic ceremony harking back centuries takes place in the City on 22 July 2023 — with the chance to see a slew of vintage vehicles roll into Guildhall Yard.
The Cart Marking ceremony — hosted by the City of London and the Worshipful Company of Carmen — first began around 500 years ago, as a form of vehicle licensing. After the owner had paid for a licence, a mark would be burnt onto their wooden cart, signalling it was officially certified.
Even today, all vehicles passing through Guildhall Arch still pay 'five shillings' (25p) to the City of London, in honour of the tradition. A red hot iron brand is used as part of the ceremony, although it's pressed onto a block of wood attached to the vehicle, rather than the chassis itself.
Vehicles are no longer limited to wooden carts of course; expect to see horse-drawn carriages, steam engines, fire engines, vans, ambulances, bicycles... even electric cars. This is, essentially, a timeline on wheels — and quite the show.
In all, over 50 vehicles will feature in 2023's festivities; in turn they'll be greeted by the Lord Mayor of London, masters from two different City of London Livery companies, and the Keeper of Guildhall Yard — all dressed in traditional robes.
As each vehicle is marked with the iron brand, a commentator provides a brief history.
In 2022, the parade featured one of the late Queen's official cars (a 1952 Royal Rolls Royce Phantom IV) and the 1948 Morris Commercial LC3 and 1926 Albion — which were two of the only commercial vehicles to drive through the Channel Tunnel on its opening day in 1994. No news yet on what to expect this year, but it's sure to be a wheely eclectic mix.
Cart Marking ceremony, Guildhall, City of London, Saturday 22 July, 10am-12.30pm, free entry