Harold Hill woman is crowned Pearly Queen of Tower Hamlets

A Harold Hill woman has carried on the tradition of four generations of her family by proudly wearing her buttons.

Lorraine Wells from Chatteris Avenue, Harold Hill was crowned as the Pearly Queen of Tower Hamlets at the biggest Pearly crowning in more than a century on Sunday May 6.

Lorraine said: “It was an absolutely brilliant event.

“I knew it would be good, but didn’t realise how good it would be, I am still in shock, but it is such an honour.”

Lorrraine, 55 took over the title from her mother now aged 79.


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The event, which was held at East End pub, the Carpenters Arms in Bethnal Green also saw her daugter, Nikki Borer, 17 being crowned as the first Pearly Queen of Stratford.

In total there were nine crownings on the day, some of which were Lorraine’s cousins and other members of her family.

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Three years ago, her other daughter Jodie-Lee Borers, 14 made history when she became the youngest Pearly, when she was crowned Pearly Queen of Dalston.

She said: “It is an honour to me to be my mum’s successor.

“It always brings a tear to my eyes when I think that my children are following a tradition that has been in their family for so long.”

The Pearly tradition started 150 years ago by Henry Croft who was born and raised in a Victorian workhouse orphanage in Somerstown, St Pancras.

At 13 Henry became a roadsweeper, but was attracted to the street fruit sellers who wore suits decorated with penny sized pearls outside the seam of their trousers.

He was fascinated by the way they rallied together to help people.

It took him five years to cover his entire suit with pearl buttons and he used it to raise money for the orphanage where he grew up.

Lorraine is directly descended from one of the original 28 pearlies.

Her great grandfather, George Hitchen Senior was the first ever Pearly King of Dalston.

Sunday’s event raised �2,000 for Homes for Heroes, and Lorraine says that she is out every week raising money for different charities.

She said: “Charity work is at the heart of what we do and if someone told us they needed help, we would be there doing our best.

“The Pearly tradition is something that will always continue.”

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