Pearlies are easily recognised by their colourful and eye-catching costumes. We're displaying several extraordinary items in Pearly Treasures, including a magnificent hat decorated with ostrich feathers.
But being a pearly is not just about wearing the costume, it is about a lifelong commitment to work tirelessly to raise money for charity. These days the Pearlies have divided into several organisations, however all still have charity work at their heart.
Henry is also said to have been inspired
towards charitable work by the ethos of the costermongers, known as a
tight-knit group who watched out for each other.
Henry Mayhew, in his 1851 investigative
London Labour and the London Poor,
states ‘I heard on all hands that the costers never steal from one another, and
never wink at anyone stealing from a neighbouring stall.’ They would also support fellow costers in
distress by holding raffles where the proceeds would be given to the one in