Residents from eight Jewish Care homes from Barnet, Redbridge and Camden enjoyed some royal entertainment from Pearly Kings and Queens last week at a tea party held at Jewish Care’s Betty and Asher Loftus Centre in Friern Barnet.
Four Pearly entertainers joined the residents for the afternoon to have a sing along and a knees up. Residents joined in and danced to old favourites like Lambeth Walk, Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner and other classics from the East End. The group included the John, the Pearly king of Finsbury, his son, Darren, the Pearly prince of Highgate, Doreen the Pearly Queen of New Cross & Old Kent Road and Pat the Pearly king of Crystal Palace. They were impressed by Rose Bliss, 102 year old resident of Jewish Care’s Otto Schiff home in Golders Green, who was singing along with her friends.
Harry Harris, a resident at Lady Sarah Cohen House, celebrated his 81st birthday last week and enjoyed accompanying the music on his tambourine whilst the entertainers sang. Harry was born in Stepney hospital and grew up in Stepney. He said “I loved seeing the pearly kings and queens and was so pleased that they came all this way to have a party with us, I’d never seen them as a child so was very lucky to see them and I hope I’ll see them again.”
Each London Borough has a King and Queen, who follow the tradition of wearing the mother-of-pearl buttons on their suits which began in the 19th Century*, and who see themselves as figureheads for the capital’s working class communities. Today there are around 30 Pearly Families who continue the tradition to raise money for charity.
The oldest resident at the party was Rose Bliss, 102 who was born in the East End and lived in different places around Cable Street and Shadwell. Later on in life she moved lived in North London in Kenton and Stanmore before moving more recently to Jewish Care’s Otto Schiff in Golders Green. She said, “I’m a Londoner and I have seen the Pearly kings and queens but only on tv so I was absolutely thrilled to meet them in person and shake their hands.”