Harold Hill schoolchildren enjoy woolderful weekend

Sheep tradition

The lucky pupils from the Drapers' Pyrgo, Maylands and Brookside primary schools which are all part of the Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). - Credit: Tom Barnes

A group of Harold Hill schoolchildren enjoyed a slightly unusual Sunday watching sheep shuttle over Southwark Bridge.

The pupils - from the Drapers' Pyrgo, Maylands and Brookside primary schools - watched a flock of sheep be herded over the bridge as part of this year's Sheep Drive and Livery Fair.

This tradition aims to celebrate the ancient right to shuttle sheep over the Thames and into the City of London.

In medieval times, sheep farmers drove their sheep into the city to sell them at market, and were excused the bridge toll as Freemen of the City.

Sheep tradition

Pupils watching on as the sheep are herded into the City of London. - Credit: Tom Barnes

Although this practice has long since ceased, a reignited interest saw the Worshipful Company of Woolmen arrange the first official sheep drive in 2013.

It has been running ever since.

The pupils were invited because their schools are a part of the Drapers' Multi-Academy Trust, which is sponsored by the Drapers' Company, a livery company which supports the event.

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As well as having a watching brief, the ten lucky pupils from each school had lunch in the illustrious Drapers’ Hall and were treated to a magic show.

Sheep tradition

Pupils from the Brookside primary school enjoying a decadent lunch at Drapers' Hall. - Credit: Tom Barnes

Drapers' Brookside pupil Ryley Knapp admitted he can't "get the image of the sheep walking over the bridge" out of his head.

The 10-year-old said: "I had no idea that our school was connected to this amazing company which has been around for hundreds of years. It makes you so proud of your school.”

Fellow pupil Phoebe Laver added: "Seeing sheep walking across a really busy bridge in London is not something you get to see every day so it really was an amazing experience.”

Principal Angie Winch feels Brookside is "really lucky" to belong to a trust that can open the door to such unique experiences.

“As our sponsor, the Drapers’ Company has been extremely supportive in offering our students the opportunity to take part in a range of exciting and enriching events, this perhaps being the quirkiest of all," said Ms Winch.

The pupils "absolutely loved" their day out, she added.

Each year Southwark Bridge is closed to accommodate the tradition, with Sunday's event led by Amanda Owen - star of Channel 5’s Our Yorkshire Farm.