London Beating the Bounds

Where: London at the Tower of London
When: Ascension Day every 3 years
Time: 6.45pm


Most Ascension Day customs are associated with marking church parish boundaries, but the one in London marks the boundaries of the Liberty of the Tower of London. Beginning with a short service in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, a procession forms including the Yeomen Warders in state dress, the Gaoler armed with his axe and children bearing willow wands. They march around the 31 markers, and the children hit each one with their wands, given plenty of encouragement by the Chief Yeoman Warder calling “Whack it,boys, whack it!” Once the walk is complete, the procession enters the Tower by the East Gate, the National Anthem is sung and refreshements are given to the participants.

Helpful Hints

Ascension Day is always on a Thursday – it’s the fortieth day after Easter and so varies in date from year to year because Easter is a moveable feast. The ceremony only happens every 3 years, not annually, and the next one is 2017.

In 2017 it will be on Thursday 25th May.

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Photo by Ian Mansfield.

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