April Fools

So recently as 1860 some gay spirits in London put their heads together and perpetrated a successful and notorious piece of foolery on the wholesale plan. Towards the latter part of March many well-known persons received through the post the following invitation card, bearing the stamp of an inverted sixpence on one of the corners for official effect:

‘Tower of London–Admit Bearer and Friend to view annual ceremony of Washing the White Lions on Sunday, April 1, 1860. Admittance only at White Gate. It is particularly requested that no gratuities be given to wardens or attendants.’

The ruse worked so well that a succession of cabs rattled around Tower Hill all the morning, much to the disturbance of the customary peace of the Sabbath, in vain attempts to discover the White Gate.

— William Shepard Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, 1898