History will be made and re-enacted on Saturday 17 June when sixty Herdwick sheep will cross the Millennium Bridge en route between the markets of Borough and Smithfield to launch the 2006 London Architecture Biennale.
Livestock were driven to market as recently as the nineteenth century so the event will highlight the huge changes that have taken place in the urban landscape since then, flagging up the relationship between London's layout and food distribution, joining as it does the two most fashionable 'larders' of the city today.
The Bishop of Southwark will give a send off to the flock from their resting place in Southwark Cathedral's churchyard. Making use of the age old droving rights of Freemen of the City of London, Farmer Sharp, five sheep dogs, two mounted police and several shepherds will accompany the Herdwicks through Borough Market, along Clink Street, over the Millennium Bridge and up Peter's Hill where a Salvation Army brass band will be playing 'The Lord is My Shepherd' in front of the organisation's new headquarters building. Passing in front of the west doors of St Paul's Cathedral, the sheep will be driven through Paternoster Square towards Smithfields. Here they will be penned for the duration of the St Bartholomew's Fair festivities that day, opposite the gateway to the historic church of St Bartholomew the Great.
The Herdwick flock will be supplied by Farmer Sharp who will also provide mutton produce from his stall at Borough Market to feed visitors. A champion of the Mutton Renaissance campaign, Sharp recently supplied mutton for the launch of the Mutton Renaissance Club whose patron is The Prince of Wales. Gathering a tide of support from British chefs like Gordon Ramsay and top restaurants such as The Ritz and Le Gavroche, mutton is enjoying a nationwide revival.
Generations of Farmer Sharp's family have been involved in the mutton trade and particularly in Herdwicks from their base in Cumbria: his great uncle Thomas Storey was Beatrix Potter's shepherd, his grandfather used to send sheep to Smithfield by train and his great great grandfather had a butcher's shop on Stan Laurel's road, The Ellers in Ulverston.
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