LONDON (Reuters) - British television gardener Alan Titchmarsh and men dressed in medieval costumes drove a flock of sheep across London Bridge on Sunday as part of a centuries-old tradition.

Shepherd David Seamark holds onto one of his flock ahead of the annual London Sheep Drive, in London, Britain, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Titchmarsh kicked off the annual sheep drive, which sees freemen of the City of London, the small area which now makes up the city’s financial district, exercise their ancient right to drive the animals over the bridge to raise money for charity.

The tradition of freemen — people who enjoy civil or political liberty — stretches back to the Middle Ages, where they would be granted lucrative trading rights and privileges.

Their entitlements included the right to drive sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll, being hanged by a silken rope should they be condemned to death and the right to go about the City of London with a drawn sword.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Keith Weir

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