Shrove Tuesday means one thing for the Livery, for the last 19 years at least, and that is the Poulters’ Company Inter Livery Pancake Races, held in the Guildhall Yard. This year, on Tuesday 21 February, 42 Companies provided teams of runners and followed a tradition that is over 600 years old.
The Tradition. In late February in England, just before the 40 days of Lent commenced, eggs and milk that wouldn’t keep over the period had to be used up, and so pancakes became the traditional food of the day. The story goes that in 1445, a baker had to rush to church while her frying pan was still on the stove. She had no choice but to run there, juggling the hot pan and flipping the pancake as she went. This event is now recreated every year on Shrove Tuesday across the country.
For the Inter Livery races, proceedigs are started with the crack of the Gunmakers’ cannon, fired this year with enthusiasm by Upper Warden Simon West. Our runners were the Master – Rowlie McBeath, Liverymen Donna Stevens and James Davies, all of whom made valiant efforts in their respective heats, running and tossing at the same time. Whilst they were not amongst the winners, the prize or pleasure for participating was in the plentiful pancakes. Racing was following by a very sociable gathering and lunch in the Guildhall Crypts.