As noted in the comments on the post GLA-Sponsored Festivals the Mayor’s Story Of London festival features very few events which are happening especially for the festival and seems to have been thought up as a wizard wheeze to piggyback publicity for Boris Johnson onto the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII, which would have been celebrated by Historic Royal Palaces and other heritage sites in London, regardless of the minimal involvement of the Mayor.

The Mayoral Decision document [PDF] for “The Story Of London, Past, Present and Future” states that: The festival can be described as truly pan London (events will take place across all 32 Boroughs and the City) - I can’t find any events in the outer London borough of Hillingdon and the neighbouring borough of Hounslow has only one.

The decision document also states:

The festival programme is deliberately broad in scope so that there should be activities to interest a wide range of target audiences – from families to young professionals, elderly to visitors. It is anticipated that the big showcase events will deliver substantial economic benefit to the areas where they take place.

Personally, I thought Henry VIII’s trip down the Thames from the Tower to Hampton Court sounded interesting, until I finally managed to find the event on the Story Of London website.

Sounds good:

On 20 June, Historic Royal Palaces will mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s coronation with a magnificent pageant sailing from the Tower of London along the Thames to the King’s famous residence, Hampton Court Palace. Departing at 10am, the Royal Shallop ‘Jubilant’ with the King and his entourage onboard will be followed by a spectacular flotilla of traditional skiffs, arriving at Hampton Court at 3pm. Visitors can explore the palace, picnic in the East Front gardens and watch the Tudor cooks hard at work in King Henry’s kitchens. Music, dancing and entertainment from the King’s fools will carry on until 9.45pm. On 21 June, festivities will continue at Hampton Court with traditional Tudor court fun and games on the river.

Great, a nice free day out for the family, thanks Boris!

Except that it’s not:

Cost: Tower of London: Adult £17, concessions £14.50, child £9.50, family £47; Hampton Court Palace: Adult £14.00, concessions, £11.50, child £7.00, family £38.00; Join ticket (Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace): Adult£24.80, concessions £20.80, child £13.20

What was that the delivery document said about participation?

one of the objectives for the project is to get Londoners out and about across the city, discovering, participating and enjoying its rich cultural and heritage offer.


Approval is being sought because Story of London specifically delivers against key objectives in the business plan and cultural strategy and the new direction of travel. These are listed below:
1: Deliver two cultural campaigns each year
2: (8.4) Promote improved access for all Londoners through targeted interventions and partnership
3: (5.1) Develop a programme of support for selected cultural events, which reflects the diversity of London
Story of London specifically meets and delivers against agendas laid out in the new direction of travel.
Chapter 4: Increase Access and Participation
Chapter 5: Culture Direction of Travel: Improve provision in Outer Boroughs
Chapter 9: Promote London

Improved access for all Londoners? Improved provision in Outer Boroughs? Increased access and participation? How about a family of four on Income Support who’d quite like to learn about Henry VII – tough, unless they can shell out £38.

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