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The First Pearly King

Henry Croft, the first Pearly King on his grave in St Pancras Cemetery, Finchley, London, 1985 (The statue was badly vandalised in the 90s and now stands, restored, in the crypt of the ‘Pearly Church’, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square)

There have been churches at Trafalgar Square in London, England since medieval times. One of them is St. Martin-in-the-Fields dating from 1726 along the eastern edge of the square. Following certain directions, after you have descended into the church’s labyrinthine crypt you’ll discover a narrow passage that is lined with old gravestones. Against the far wall is the life-sized statue of Henry Croft who was known as the “First Pearly King”.

Well, he was not the king of pearls but instead a common street sweeper. When he went out to raise money for charity he would put on a suit covered with pearls to draw attention to himself. Thus he got his nickname. When he died in 1930 this tradition of attracting people to charity raisers continued and even today you can see people in such pearly wear walking about London raising money for a cause.

  • Question of

    Have you heard about the Pearly King?

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  • Question of

    Isn’t this an interesting way to raise money for charity?

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