Taxed beyond death

With a General Election in the air, the time has come when politicians promise to give to you all the benefits you require, while taking from everyone else, by way of increasing taxes to all others than yourself.

So here are a few of London’s strangest payments of tax, housing benefits and, well, circumventing planning laws. It’s something which apparently we do in London and then celebrate the waiver of one’s dues.

Quit Rents
The City of London owes annual rent monies to the Crown, but those rather wily men of the City have managed to circumvent this rather tedious payment.

An ancient arrangement of two quiet bizarre gifts is given in lieu of payment. The Queen’s Remembrancer resplendent in a wig and tricorn hat accepts two knives, one sharp and one blunt, which must cut through a hazel twig with the sharp and to bend the another with the blunt. He then accepts six horseshoes and 61 nails which he will then meticulously counts to ensure he’s been given the exact number.

Knolly’s Roses
Staring out of her front window one day Constance Knolly didn’t like the view of a threshing ground, and presumably the sweating men at work.

After buying the land she converted it into a rose garden with access via a footbridge.

Having no planning permission reparation to the City might have been expected. Her husband, who was away fighting someone or other returned, and due to his popularity got the fine reduced to the annual payment of a red rose.

This duly takes place from Seething Lane Gardens and given to the Lord Mayor on an altar cushion supplied by All Hallows by the Tower at the Mansion House every June.

Wellington’s Booty
Every 18th June, at Windsor Castle, the Waterloo Ceremony takes place. During this ceremony, the ‘Duke of Wellington’ travels up to Windsor to pay The Queen his rent for his home – Stratfield Saye House – originally a gift from the grateful people of Britain for defeating the French at the Battle of Waterloo.

During the ceremony, held on the anniversary of the victory at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington symbolically presents The Queen with a silk embroidered version of the French flag with the current year in the corner.

The current flag is then taken and hung over a bust of the first Duke of Wellington in the Guard Chamber at Windsor Castle.

I’m off to ask my prospective MP what arrangements might be made to give me dispensation from paying my council tax.

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