I extremely suggest studying a fantastic piece by Helen Macdonald simply revealed within the New York Instances Journal, "In Search of Submit-Brexit England, and Swans". The story opens:
Within the days after the Brexit vote final 12 months, I turned obsessive about an oil portray referred to as “Swan Upping at Cookham” [below, Stanley Spencer, 1915-1919], which portrays a scene from an historic and colourful English custom. “Swan Upping” refers back to the annual summer time voyage of a flotilla of wood skiffs that units off from the city of Sunbury-on-Thames on a five-day journey to catch all of the swans on the higher reaches of the River Thames. The crews examine the parentage of younger birds and place a mark on them to assert their possession: Some belong to the queen, others to the Worshipful Firm of Vintners and the Worshipful Firm of Dyers, two historic commerce guilds based mostly within the Metropolis of London. The portray depicts a conventional cease on the uppers’ journey. Right here is the river and the Ferry Inn, wood punts, moody clouds, ladies carrying cushions, a fretted iron bridge and a swan certain and hoisted in coils of rope and canvas, white neck craning from a person’s shoulder.
After some fascinating background on the portray and on the place of those swans in English nationwide mythology, Macdonald explains extra concerning the authorized historic background of the "upping":