Marlow Town Mayor Jocelyn Towns and Deputy Mayor Chris Funnell hosted David Barber, The Queen’s Swan Marker, and other Swan Uppers at the Two Brewers pub in St Peter Street on Tuesday 18th July. They were celebrating the completion of their work on the stretch of the Thames from Sunbury Lock up to Marlow yesterday. This morning, they set off from the Compleat Angler for the next stage of Swan Upping, having first answered questions from local schoolchildren.
Swan Upping is the census of the swan population on certain stretches of the Thames, which takes place during the third week of July every year. This historic ceremony dates from the twelfth century when the Crown claimed ownership of all swans, and they were regarded as a delicacy at banquets.
Nowadays the cygnets are weighed and measured to obtain estimates of growth rates and the birds are examined for any sign of injury. Cygnets are extremely vulnerable at this early stage in their development and Swan Upping affords an opportunity to help both adults and cygnets that might otherwise go untreated.
The Queen’s Swan Marker and the accompanying Swan Uppers of the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Livery Companies use traditional Thames rowing skiffs in their five-day journey upstream.
The team can be seen in action close to Marlow lock in the photo below, tweeted by Stephanie Wareham of the Bucks Free Press. In fact, she was on one of the boats and did a great job of tweeting photos and videos throughout the whole day – check out her Twitter feed if you get the chance!
— Stephanie Wareham (@Stephanie_BFP) July 18, 2017
Finally – this year, the boats arriving had a celebrity on board for the ride – Ben Fogle took part and even took a turn rowing!
— Ben Fogle (@Benfogle) July 18, 2017