Thomas Wright, Lord Mayor - success of the original owner of Bell House

On this day (25th March) in 1765, Thomas Wright won the lease to print religious books for the University of Oxford. Twenty years on, and his success had continued to reach dizzying heights... 

 Swearing-in of Lord Mayor, 1782. Thomas is shown front-centre looking over his left shoulder

Swearing-in of Lord Mayor, 1782. Thomas is shown front-centre looking over his left shoulder

In 1785 Thomas crowned his many years of public service by becoming Lord Mayor of London. His Lord Mayor’s Show was particularly splendid: the twelve guildsmen of the Stationers’ Company insisted on accompanying the procession in their own coaches instead of on foot as was tradition. The coach Thomas used is the one still used today. It transported him to the Thames where he joined the City Barge, followed by all the livery company barges blazing with streamers and pendants.

 Lord Mayor's barge

Lord Mayor's barge

He travelled to Westminster where he took his oath before returning by barge to Blackfriars and then back to the Guildhall by coach for ‘a magnificent entertainment’.

 Lord Mayor’s coach, used by Thomas Wright in his inauguration

Lord Mayor’s coach, used by Thomas Wright in his inauguration

Towards the end of his time as Lord Mayor, Princess Amelia the king’s sister died. The Lord Chamberlain proclaimed that at the next Lord Mayor’s show no liverymen should ‘walk or stand in the street, or pass in their barges on the water’ The artillery company were forbidden from marching or firing their guns. There was no ringing of bells or ‘other outward show of rejoicing’ such as a feast. A contemporary print shows Thomas Wright’s colleagues do not appear at all happy with the lack of festivities. 

 No dinner no ball: response to the ban on the Lord Mayor's Show. Source: Library of Congress

No dinner no ball: response to the ban on the Lord Mayor's Show. Source: Library of Congress

To learn more about the fascinating history of Bell House in Dulwich, make sure you visit: https://www.bellhouse.co.uk/history/. Huge thanks to Sharon O'Connor for all her work on researching and writing up the legacy of Bell House.