A Cornish butcher and farmer exercised his ancient right to drive sheep across the River Thames in London at this year’s Sheep Drive event.  

James Kittow, from Kilhallon near Par, was one of 1,000 Freemen of the City of London who took part in the Sheep Drive and Livery Fair.

The event raises funds to support the work of The Woolmen Charity and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal. 

As a member of The Worshipful Company of Butchers, which dates back to 975 AD and is one of the oldest of the 110 City of London Livery Companies, James was eligible to participate in this unusual event. 

In the 12th century, farmers drove their sheep across the original London Bridge, the only way to cross the Thames at the time, into the City of London to sell them at market. Freemen were excused the bridge toll in recognition of their status as local traders. 

The ancient tradition was revived in 2013 and has become a popular fundraiser on Southwark Bridge. 

“What an absolute privilege and honour it was to be able to drive sheep over the Thames,” said James, who exercised his ancient right with his son and daughter. 

“It was a cracking day. Being in my 50th year, I wanted to do special things so as well as being invited to be a steward at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show, this was the perfect opportunity to do something else memorable with my family.”