If you watched any of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, you know the UK has plenty of royal traditions.
Some of them date back centuries.
And here’s one of them: once a year, sometime between about now and mid November, the city of London pays rent to the Crown for several pieces of land in what’s called the Ceremony of Quit Rents.
This ceremony dates back to the year 1211, and there are lots of details.
For starters, the term “quit rents” refers to a kind of land tax.
There’s someone called the King’s Remembrancer, who in the old days was responsible for tracking who owed what to the Crown.
During the ceremony, the Remembrancer wears a judicial wig and a black tricorn hat, and sits at a table with a checkered cloth.
The UK term Exchequer actually comes from the cloth, which they used almost like a spreadsheet to tally what the sovereign had received.
For its rent on a 180 acre tract of land called The Moors, the city provides a sharp axe and a blunt knife called a billhook.
The Remembrancer tests the knives, and says “good service” if they’re in good shape.
For the use of a forge in a place known as Tweezer’s Alley or Twizzer’s Alley, London’s rent is 61 nails and six large horseshoes, to which a satisfied Remembrancer will remark “good number.”
It’s a very ancient and very carefully orchestrated ceremony.
But, as is sometimes the case with 800 year old traditions, some of the details seem to have been lost to time, like the location of the land for which London is paying the quit rents.
Nobody knows for sure where they were.
But, since the Remembrancer loans the entire rent back to the city of London after each year’s ceremony, nobody seems to worry too much about it either.
Today in 2013 the BBC reported on a big typo.
The Vatican had turned to the Italian State Mint to strike gold, silver and bronze coins in honor of the new pope.
The only problem: the coins had the name Jesus spelled with an L.
And, of course, that got people online shouting Lesus!
The Ceremony of Quit Rents (Historic-UK.com)