No 36 – Swan Upping at Marlow

The ancient ceremony of Swan Upping is currently taking place.  Starting on Monday 15th July at Sunbury the three Swan Markers, six traditional Thames rowing skiffs and a large number of rowers begin their journey up the Thames to catch swans and cygnets as they go to count them, ring them, weigh them and check their health.    The journey to Abingdon  takes five days, and has been carried out each July for over 900 years

Swans are owned by three parties, The Sovereign, The Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers.  The crews are distinguishable by their uniforms. The Queens swan uppers ware red shirts with the royal crest embroidered on the front,  The Vintners where navy blue shirts and the Dyers where white shirts.  All have white trousers and white sailing shoes.

On day three of their journey they arrive at Marlow Lock around 5.30 pm.  In addition to the images below I have posted  more images on my website at

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Arriving at Marlow Lock

Having left Eton Bridge at 9.00 am the Swan Uppers have travelled up stream to Marlow arriving at Marlow Lock at 5.45 on one of the hottest days of the year.

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The Queen’s Swan Uppers moor up waiting to go through Marlow Lock

The flotilla of skiffs and followers’ boats is sizeable, so it takes time to get everybody through the locks.

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The Vintners Swan Counter and Crew

The three Swan Counters traditionally ware a swan’s feather in their caps.

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The Dyers Swan Uppers

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Leaving Marlow Lock with Swans in View

The first skiffs to leave Marlow Lock catch sight of a swan and cygnet.  The skiffs work together to form a pincer movement, push the birds towards the bank.

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Pincer Movement traps Swan and Cygnet

The birds are now trapped and are netted and taken on board for examination and ringing.  You can see the swans head sticking out between the boats.

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Job done  and time go to Moorings

Now close to the night’s moorings at the Compleat Angle, the Swan Uppers can now think about a well earned rest.

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The Vintners follow

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A Wave from the Her Majesty’s Swan Counter 

The Royal Swan Counter gives a cheery wave after a day’s job well done.

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A Welcome Beer in the Two Brewers

A few beers are well deserved before dinner at the Two Brewers.


And to meet the Mayor of Marlow Suzanne Brown

Bourne End Community Market

On Saturday 13th July we took a stall at the Bourne End Community Market.  This market is held on the second Saturday of each month at the Bourne End Library, Wakeman Road,  SL8 5SX from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm.  Despite the heat and the start of summer holidays the market was well attended and we had an enjoyable and successful morning.  There was a good variety of stalls providing both food produce and arts and crafts. We hope soon to become a regular stall holder here as as our regular stall at the Marlow Community Market held at Liston Hall, Marlow SL7 1DD on the last Saturday of each month between 9.30 am and 1.00 am.  The next market is next Saturday 27th July.

Bourne End Market

The Bourne End Stall manned by my wife Annie and Grandson Ollie.

If you have any questions or comments regarding my work or require information on print sales please do not hesitate to contact me either though my blog or e-mail me at chrishotton@me .com


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