If you’re making an international relocation, I’m making your move more festive with London Relocation’s Twelve Days of Christmas! The next line in the original is: “On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.”
Please join me in now singing our Christmas carol:
“On the eleventh day of Christmas, London gave to me…
CLAY PIPES ABOUNDING…”
When you move to London, you step right into its history. And when you walk the Thames shoreline, you literally step on its history! Mudlarking is like treasure hunting: it entails combing through the muck of the riverbank mud and stone in search of artifacts pitched into the river over the course of centuries. Pieces of history that wash up ashore include antiquated coins, pilgrim badges, Roman pottery medieval toys , jewelry, and animal bones discarded by butchers; clay pipes in particular have been found in abundance. Beginning in the late 16th century—before paper-wrapped cigarettes—people smoked tobacco out of these clay pipes. Though they could be reused, they were apparently tossed away like cigarette butts; this was frequent among dock workers, thus likely why SO many continually wash up onto the Thames foreshore. They’re so prevalent, jewelry is made from them!
Mudlarking is free for anyone to do if your scavenging is kept to surface-level scanning; a special license from the Port of London Authority is required if you want to actually dig into the sediment and use instruments like metal detectors—thus distinguishes the pros from the amateurs. The Lower Thames Four website (www.lowerthamesfour.co.uk) shares a fascinating collection of recovered artifacts, and if you’re keen to get in on mudlarking as a hobby, be sure to check out the Thames and Field Metal Detecting Society (www.thamesandfield.co.uk)—their site is absolutely nuts; you’ll get a kick out of it. Also, if you find something of interest that could be valuable and/or you don’t know what it is, you should report to the Museum of London; they offer a free identification service, and anything of value should in good conscience be shared in the spirit of helping piece together local history!
If you do consider taking this on, be aware of the risks—the Thames is a tidal river, which explains how you can access the muddy banks to begin with. But the river rises back up quickly, so owning a tide table or consulting the tide times in a newspaper’s weather section is a must. Stay close to exit points, and be wary of the slippery surface; try to walk on shingle, not mud, and wear your Wellies! If you have any apprehension, the Museum of London offers tours of the Thames shore to get you acquainted first. And your London Relocation agent will, of course, lower your risks in helping you find some real treasure: your new apartment! Be it flat-searching or mudlarking, it’s yet more adventure to be had in this grand, historic city after your relocation!
Now, to continue our caroling:
“…House of Lords governing,
Swan patrons swilling,
shot geese fileting,
five Olympic rings!
More calling plans,
pretty fresh hens,
sea turtle tanks,
and a cartridge to hunt in country.”