of swan-upping started some 600 years ago, and it's basically the counting
up of all the swans living on the Thames.
ago the swan was considered a culinary delight, but owning swans was a
privilige initially restricted to the Crown who then extended ownership
to two City Livery companies; The Company of Vintners and the Company
At one time
any unauthorised person found guilty of killing a swan could be sentenced
to transportation for seven years and even up to 1895 could receive seven
years hard labour.
ceremony developed as the means by which the Crown, the Vintners and the
Dyers identified their particular swans.
the Vintners marked their birds by putting a nick on each side of the
beaks, the Dyers putting one nick only, whilst the Crown's birds went
unmarked. This practice is no longer continued. Instead the birds are
marked by an identifying ring around their legs.
takes place along the Thames during the third week of July, starting on
Monday at Sunbury and concluding at Abingdon on Friday.
It is organised
by the Royal Swan Keeper, a position that dates from 1295.
of boats move up the river looking for families of swans. Once caught,
the swan is lifted onto dry land and examined to check its health. Each
of the cygnets is marked with identifying tags on its legs. Then they
are measured and weighed. Once every statistic has been recorded the family
of swans are given a final check-over then released.
week they will mark and check between 70 - 90 cygnets and will update
records on the numbers and well-being of the swan population as a whole.
interested in observing the spectacle, details of the swan-upping schedule
can be obtained from the Environment Agency.
* info courtesy