Heritage

The Royal Naval Tradition Of Paying The Constables Dues

During the reign of Richard II, Naval ships passing into London were ordered to pay a fee to the Constable of the Tower.

At the Tower of London, a Royal Naval tradition was brought back to life.

Personnel from HMS Enterprise have been marching through the capital to pay 'the Constables Dues'.

It is a tradition that dates back to the 14th century, when ships who turned up in London were ordered to pay a form of toll to the king.

The payment would range between anything from wine to oysters.

It used to be a regular tax but now the ceremony takes place on average once a year.

Today, the Royal Navy paid their dues with rum.

Constables Dues Rum Tax
The barrel was carried under fanfare in front of the Constable, Yeomen Warders and staff.

Lord Houghton, the 160th Constable, believes it is a great reminder of the capitals diverse history:

"The Constable was probably then amongst the most important men in the kingdom, to keep London under control, and how he could gain his living was through the order of the monarch for what was an act of piracy and of taking things from ships on the Thames."

HMS Enterprise is in London for World Hydrography Day, London Shipping week and to mark the countdown to Armed Forces Day.

Commander Cecil Ladislaus, the Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, enjoys the range of tasks the ship gets to carry out: "It just goes to show the flexibility of our people across the services.

"The fact that one minute we are conducting Hydrographic surveying, the next minute dusting off our number ones, polishing our shoes and here we are."

It was not long after the ceremony that the barrel was whisked to the officers' mess, but not before a toast to the Constable and the Tower of London's latest guests.