The Mayor of Garrat

In the eighteenth century, many people couldn't vote in the General Elections - but in the tiny Wandsworth village of Garrat, the people decided to use election day to choose a local mayor to take care of the village's common land. And while they were at it, why not make it into a bizarre satire of the parliamentary process?

Local workers (cobblers, wigsellers, watermen and more) would stand under made-up noble names like Squire Blowmedown, Lady Twankum and Sir Buggy Bates. They'd give out leaflets about how only they could save Garrat, and about the shortcomings of their opponents. They'd hire bell-ringers to accompany their speeches. All this as part of the elections for a "mayor" who had no real powers at all!

And it wasn't just the people of Garrat who voted - at the height of the elections, up to 80,000 people would come from around London to take part. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole thing was funded by the local pub-owners, who thought having 80,000 raucous participants in a fake election sounded like a great and very profitable idea...

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Story sources: Edward Walford, Old and New London, Volume 6. Chambers Book of Days, 20 May..