The Pearly entertainers

Rouser 2013
Rouser 2013

Another Express photograph shrouded in mystery. The caption simply reads: Newhaven Pearly Kings and Queens, 1980.

They seem a jolly bunch, probably raising money for local charities.

But in Newhaven!

Pearly Kings and Queens originated in the 19th century from the Coster Kings and Queens, who in turn originated from the Costermongers, who originated from London’s Street Traders.

Quite a history.

Costermongers were an important feature of London life. They were originally unlicensed and itinerant - at times hounded by the authorities and bureaucracy.

They cried their wares to attract customers with vigour and panache - much to the annoyance of London’s well-to-do society. Yet, it is said, they provided an essential service to London’s poor; mainly selling their wares in small quantities around the streets and alleyways.

So what were they doing in Newhaven?