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Royal Swan Upping 2023

Marlow Mayor meets the Swan Uppers

Mayor David Brown and Mrs Stacey Brown with Robert and Soulla Beck. Pictures courtesy of Jon Perry, Marlow Camera Club

The Swan Uppers were welcomed back to Marlow on Tuesday 18th July for the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames. 

Every year at this time the Royal Swan Uppers, who wear the scarlet uniform of His Majesty The King, travel along the river in traditional rowing skiffs, together with Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies. 

Mayor David Brown and his wife Stacey joined the group at Cookham, travelling with them by boat to Marlow, where they attended a reception at the Two Brewers. Mayor Brown said: “We greatly enjoyed the experience of Swan Upping. Many thanks to the Royal Swan Uppers, and to Christine Bateman of The Two Brewers for the generous hospitality.” 

Royal Swan Upper David Barber commented: “Unfortunately, due to Avian Influenza, the swan population has suffered in the last year and there is a shortage of families on the river. We’re hoping that next year will be more successful for them.” 


Swan Upping plays an important role in the conservation of the mute swan and involves The Queen’s Swan Warden collecting data, assessing the health of young cygnets and examining them for any injuries. Cygnets are extremely vulnerable at this early stage in their development and Swan Upping affords an opportunity to help both adults and cygnets that might otherwise go untreated. 

On Wednesday morning, 19th July, Cllr Richard Scott attended an information session on the lawn of the Compleat Angler with HM Swan Marker, David Barber, who explained the history and process of Swan Upping to local schoolchildren. 

Swan Upping plays an important role in the conservation of the mute swan and involves The King’s Swan Warden collecting data, assessing the health of young cygnets and examining them for any injuries. Cygnets are extremely vulnerable at this early stage in their development and Swan Upping affords an opportunity to help both adults and cygnets that might otherwise go untreated.

The Royal Swan Uppers, who wear the scarlet uniform of His Majesty The King, travel in traditional rowing skiffs together with Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies. Many schools are invited to meet the Swan Uppers on their journey up river. The children involved may have the opportunity to view cygnets at close quarters and ask questions about swans, the boats used and The King’s ownership of mute swans. The participation of school children is a positive element of Swan Upping and their enthusiasm for wildlife is always to be encouraged.

Education plays an important role in Swan Upping today.  Working with the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames on projects for primary school children has resulted in a learning resource covering a wide spectrum of the national curriculum, enabling schools to focus on a number of distinct subject areas revolving around the river’s ecology and geography and the habitat it provides for so much of our wildlife. 

The range of subjects covered by this resource includes the biology of the mute swan, the boats used during Swan Upping and, of course, the Royal connection to Swan Upping which can be traced back for many hundreds of years.  This collaboration is continuing with the aim of producing further material for use by schools in the future.

The King’s Swan Marker, David Barber, is available for a limited number of illustrated talks on the subject of Royal Swan Upping. To find out more, please email the office of The King’s Swan Marker at info@royalswan.co.uk


Royal Swan Upping 2022

Royal Swan Upping provides a spectacle despite record temperatures

This summer’s Royal Swan Upping went ahead on Tuesday, 19th July, despite the heat — and as always provided a colourful sight for walkers along the Thames towpath. Marlow’s Mayor Richard Scott accompanied the Swan Uppers on the river from Cookham to Marlow, where he held a reception at the Two Brewers pub.

“I was very pleased to join the Swan Marker, David Barber, and the teams of Swan Uppers on their annual Swan Upping,” the Mayor said. “On the hottest day of the year, they ringed cygnets between Cookham and Marlow as part of the process of checking on the health of swans and cygnets on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen. I was also delighted to meet with the Swan Marker the following morning, when he explained the importance of the annual event to children from a number of local schools.” 

The Royal Swan Uppers wear the scarlet uniform of Her Majesty The Queen and travel in traditional rowing skiffs, together with Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies. Many schools are invited to meet the Swan Uppers on their journey up river, giving the children the opportunity to view cygnets at close quarters and ask questions.

Visit the official website: https://www.royal.uk/swans

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Swan Upping took place on Tuesday 20th July 2021. See latest news item for more information. https://www.marlow-tc.gov.uk/2021/07/swan-upping-returns/


Below is an extract from the Queen’s Swan Marker website with information on the 2020 cancelled event.

Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames, will not go ahead this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Swan Upping was due to take place on 13th – 17th July, between Sunbury-on-Thames and Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

David Barber MVO, The Queen’s Swan Marker, said: “Although not unexpected, it is of course disappointing that members of the public and local schoolchildren will not be able to enjoy Swan Upping this year.”

“It is always a great opportunity for the young people who attend to learn about mute swans, and see first-hand the health checks we carry out on every single family of swans along the river.”

The Queen’s Swan Marker is working with the Thames Swan Rescue Organisations to continue overseeing swan welfare as usual.


Royal Swan Marking held 2019

In 16th July 2019, Mayor Richard Scott and Mayoress Linda Scott accompanied the Royal Swan Marker and the Swan Uppers from Cookham to Marlow on the annual Swan Upping event, which starts at Sunbury and finishes at Abingdon. 

The Royal Swan Marker wore the scarlet uniform of Her Majesty the Queen and was accompanied by Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies. Their task is to seek out new signets to check their health, inspect for any injuries and collect important data.

It has been reported that there has been an increase in the incidence of dog attacks on swans, leaving them with appalling injuries and the Swan Marker has asked all dog owners to keep their dogs under control when in the vicinity of swans and other wildlife.

The Mayor held a small reception for the Swan Uppers at the Two Brewers Pub in St Peter Street. The Town Council would like to thank Alex, the Manager, for hosting this event and carrying on the tradition of many years.

The following morning the Mayor attended the departure of the Swan Uppers for the next leg of the journey at the Compleat Angler Hotel.  Children from local schools were treated to a close-up view of cygnets.

For more information on Swan Upping, please visit their website: http://www.royalswan.co.uk/