The expression ‘(once) every Preston Guild’, meaning ‘very infrequently’, became an English common idiom, especially in Lancashire. But today, on September 1st, 2012, this rare event, dating back to 12th century, took place again ! In 1328 the Guild Merchant was set to be held every 20 years, and this exact sequence was held from 1542 to 1922, with the break in 1942.
This morning at 10:30 the Guild started with the ancient words of the Preston Mayor: “O yeay, o yeay, o yeay” from the steps of the Harris museum, a magnificent Greek-style building built “To Literature, Arts and Sciences”. The weather was nice to people with the temperature reaching finally around 20C. The sun was fighting with the clouds breaking them for the first time as the chorus on the steps of the Harris museum sang the words “We are the Guild !” of the Guild anthem, and for the second time, when all the public on the Flag Market square in front of the museum sang with uneven voices: “God save the Queen”. With the creep on my back, it really felt, that letters “PP” = “proud Preston” from the Preston’s court of arms came alive ! At 11:00 a procession of 99 companies started on a circular path around the city centre, and lasted for more than 3 hours. I was pleased to see the words “Knowledge is power” on one of the flags, as for me 1st of September is a Soviet Union Day of Knowledge, the start of academic year in all schools and universities of once a big country. My present university, UCLan, was marching in green T-shirts with a huge white globe above. I was happy to spot a colleague of mine, a physicist and a proud Prestonian, Tim Mercer, in the procession. The Guild Merchant celebration has started, and it will last for 10 days.
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