CITY LIVERY COMPANIES
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[Introduction] [Listing] [Ceremonies] [Guildhall] [Halls] [Visiting] [Resources]

Introduction
The City Livery companies originated in the Medieval period as craft guilds. They decided who could trade, controlled prices & wages, working conditions & welfare. They also controlled quality in return for a trade monopoly, carrying out inspections and punishing poor workmanship. In return they would care for members unable to work and ensure they had a decent burial. Several companies still retain their special pall cloth. The term 'livery' was adopted with the custom of wearing a uniform, still used on ceremonial occasions. Companies are generally governed by a Master, one to four Wardens and a Court of Assistants aided by a Clerk and Beadle. Admission is by three routes: servitude (an apprenticeship), partrimony (for the child of a liveryman) or redemption (nomination & payment). Liveryman are often also Freemen of the City of London, responsible for choosing the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.
An order of precendence was established in 1515 occording to company wealth. To settle a dispute the Skinners and Merchant Taylors take positions six and seven on alternate years. Some companies such as the Goldsmiths, Fishmongers, Saddlers and Gunmakers are still active in their trade. Others such as the Horners and Fan Makers have changed to modern equivalents (plastics & air-conditioning) whilst many have lost their trade. Loriners and cordwainers are as unfamilar names now as information technologists or air pilots would have been in Medieval times. The majority of the newer companies cover specialist professions to which members belong. Most companies support associated industries with prizes, fellowships, scholarships etc. Some have founded or support schools & colleges and maintain almshouses or provide pensions. In addition to their own almshouses & schools Livery Companies were often appointed to administer establishments set up by individuals. Their funds originate from purchases of land & properties or bequests from members. Look for company badges on city buildings which denote ownership.

Listing
Note: Dates are as attributed by the City of London but most companies pre-date their 'official' formation date.
Companies with an asterisk undertake a role in one of the ceremonies detailed below.
Where companies do not have a livery hall (some are shared) a contact address can be obtained from the
database maintained by the Fishmongers' Company.

Pos Site Company & date Hall Address
91

 

Actuaries 1979  
81

Air Pilots & Air Navigators 1929  
58

Apothecaries 1617 14 Blackfriars Lane EC4V 6EJ
93

Arbitrators 1981  
22

Armourers & Brasiers 1453 81 Coleman Street EC2R 5BJ
19

Bakers* 1486 Harp Lane, Lower Thames St EC3R 6DP
17

Barbers 1308 1 Monkwell Square EC2Y 5BL
52

Basketmakers* 1569  
40

Blacksmiths 1325  
38

Bowyers 1371  
14

Brewers 1437 Aldermanbury Square EC2V 7HR
48   Broderers 1561  
88

Builders Merchants 1961  
24

Butchers* 1605 87 Bartholomew Close EC1A 7EB
77

Carmen* 1517  
26

Carpenters 1333 Throgmorton Avenue EC2N 2JJ
86

Chartered Accountants 1977  
98

Chartered Architects 1985  
87

Chartered Secretaries & Administrators 1977  
85

Chartered Surveyors 1976  
61

Clockmakers 1631  
12

Clothworkers 1528 Dunster Court, Mincing Lane EC3R 7AH
72

Coachmakers & Coach-Harness Makers 1677  
99

Constructors 1976  
35

Cooks 1482  
36

Coopers 1501 13 Devonshire Square EC2M 4TH
27

Cordwainers 1272  
29

Curriers 1415  
18

Cutlers 1344 Warwick Lane EC4M 7BR
69

Distillers* 1638  
3

Drapers 1364 Throgmorton Street EC2N 2DQ
13

Dyers* 1471 Dowgate Hill EC4R 2ST
94

Engineers 1983  
97

Environmental Cleaners 1972  
76

Fan Makers 1709  
80   Farmers 1952 3 Cloth Street EC1A 7LD
55

Farriers 1674  
63

Feltmakers* 1604  
103

Firefighters 2001 20 Aldmanbury EC2V 7HY
4

Fishmongers* 1272 London Bridge EC4R 9EL
39

Fletchers 1371 3 Cloth Street EC1A 7LD
33

Founders 1614 1 Cloth Fair EC1A 7HT
64

Framework Knitters 1657  
45

Fruiterers* 1605  
95

Fuellers 1984  
83

Furniture Makers 1963  
66

Gardeners* 1605  
23   Girdlers 1327 Basinghall Avenue EC2V 5DD
71

Glass Sellers 1664  
53

Glaziers & Painters of Glass 1637 9 Montague Close SE1 9DD
62

Glovers* 1349 Harp Lane, Lower Thames St EC3R 6DP
74

Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers 1693  
5

Goldsmiths* 1327 Foster Lane EC2V 6BN
2

Grocers* 1428 Princes Street EC2R 8AD
73   Gunmakers 1637  
8

Haberdashers 1371 18 West Smithfield EC1A 9HQ
104   Hackney Carriage Drivers 2004 HQS Wellington, Temple Stairs EC2R 2PN
54

Horners 1638  
100

Information Technologists 1992 39a Bartholomew Close EC1A 7JN
32

Innholders 1515 College Street EC4R 2RH
92

Insurers 1979 20 Aldmanbury EC2V 7HY
106

 

International Bankers 2001  
10

Ironmongers 1463 Barbican EC2Y 8AA
41

Joiners & Ceilers 1571  
89

Launderers 1960 9 Montague Close SE1 9DD
15

Leathersellers 1444 St Helen's Place EC3A 6DQ
96

Lightmongers 1979  
57

Loriners 1261  
75

Makers of Playing Cards 1628  
105

Management Consultants  
90

Marketors 1977  
30

Masons 1677  
78

Master Mariners 1926 HQS Wellington, Temple Stairs EC2R 2PN
1

Mercers 1394 Ironmonger Lane EC2V 8HE
6/7

Merchant Taylors 1327 30 Threadneedle Street EC2R 8AY
50

Musicians 1350  
65   Needlemakers 1656  
28

Painter-Stainers* 1283 9 Little Trinity Lane EC4V 2AD
70

Pattenmakers 1670  
56

Paviors 1479 Warwick Lane EC4
16

Pewterers 1384 Oat Lane EC2V 7DE
46

Plaisterers 1501 1 London Wall EC2Y 5JU
31

Plumbers 1365  
34   Poulters 1368  
25

Saddlers 1362 Gutter Lane, Cheapside EC2V 6BR
9

Salters 1394 Fore Street EC2Y 5DE
84

Scientific Instrument Makers 1955 9 Montague Close SE1 9DD
44

Scriveners* 1373  
59

Shipwrights 1387 Barbican EC2Y 8AA
6/7

Skinners* 1327 8 Dowgate Hill EC4R 2SP
79

Solicitors 1944 Warwick Lane EC4
60

Spectacle Makers 1629 Blackfriars Lane EC4V 6EJ
47

Stationers & Newspaper Makers 1403 Stationers Hall Court EC4M 7DD
21

Tallow Chandlers 1462 4 Dowgate Hill EC4R 2SH
107

Tax Advisors 2005  
67

Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers 1670  
82

Tobacco Pipe-Makers & Tobacco Blenders 1960  
51

Turners 1604  
37

Tylers & Bricklayers 1416  
49

Upholders 1626  
11

Vintners* 1364 Upper Thames Street EC4V 3BJ
102

Water Conservators 2000  
20

Wax Chandlers 1484 Gresham Street EC2V 7AD
42

Weavers 1155  
68

Wheelwrights 1670  
43

Woolmen 1522  
101

World Traders  
    Companies without Livery  
    Parish Clerks  
 

Security Professionals  
 

Watermen & Lightermen* 18 St-Mary-at-Hill EC3R 8EE

Ceremonies
At Midsummer liverymen meet at Guildhall and choose two sheriffs and on Michaelmas Day they nominate two Alderman one of whom will become Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor's Show takes place on the second Saturday in November and originates from the grant of 1215 which required the appointed Lord Mayor to swear loyalty to the crown. Masters of livery companies attend the event and companies often produce floats for the parade. The Feltmakers, Scriveners and Glovers provide the new Lord Mayor with his hat, quill & gloves. In December the Butchers present him with a boar's head which used to be made in payment for land on which to carry out their business. The Fruiterers make a gift of fruit in the autumn to mark the abolition of tolls payable on fruit entering the City and the Bakers & Gardeners donate bread & flowers, which are usually passed on to hospitals.

A United Guilds service is held in St Paul's Cathedral in March and there is a Cakes & Ale ceremony at the Stationer's Hall on Ash Wednesday. In June the Fishmongers process from their hall to St Magnus the Martyr Church and the Skinners go to St James Garlickhythe on Corpus Christi Day. In July the Grocers process to St Stephen Walbrook, the Vintners to St James Garlickhythe and the Watermen & Lightermen to St Mary-at-Hill. In October there is a Harvest Festival of Bakers at St-Mary-at-Hill and on the second Tuesday the wine harvest is celebrated by the Vintners and Distillers at St Olaves, Hart Street. Also in October is the Painter-Stainers procession to St James Garlickhythe and the Basketmakers to St Margaret Pattens.
The Trial of the Pyx which tests the coins of the realm originated in the 13thc at Westminster but since the 1870s has been carried out at Goldsmith's Hall (usually on the second Thursday in February).

Swans on the Thames belong to the sovereign or the Dyers or Vintners. The Queen's Keeper of the Swans presides over the ceremony of Swan Upping assisted by swanherds of the Dyers & Vintners in July. They wear colourful costumes and travel in boats decorated with banners. In 1980 the length of river covered was shortened and it now takes place between Sudbury and Pangbourne. Originally the beaks of new cygnets were nicked: one for Dyers, two for Vintners and none for the Queens but in 1997 this practice was replaced with ringing.

Doggetts Coat & Badge Race is the oldest annual event in the British sporting calendar and was instigated by Thomas Doggett, a comedian and joint manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, who had relied on the Watermen to carry him from his home in Chelsea to his place of work, sometimes in poor weather conditions. When he died in 1715 his will provided 5 for a silver badge and scarlet coat. The race is from London Bridge to Chelsea Pier, a distance of 4 miles 5 furlongs, and takes place in July with (originally against!) the tide. The first boats were skiffs but are now light sculling boats which average a time of 30 minutes. Men and women in their first year of freedom of the Company of Watermen & Lightermen are eligible to enter and from the 1990's unsuccessful entrants could row again in their second and third years. The original bequest no longer covers the cost of the prize which is supplied by the Fishmongers who organise the event and make the presentation to the winner at a special dinner.

The Cart Marking ceremony takes place in Guildhall Yard in mid-July and is organised by the Worshipful Company of Carmen with assistance from the Glovers. More information including pictures of the event in 2002 is available on a separate page.

Guildhall - pictured in header
The medieval Guildhall was severely damaged in the Great Fire but reconstruced by 1671. Alterations were carried out by Sir Horace Jones in the Victorian period but the hall was set on fire during the bombing in December 1940. The roof collapsed and a new one was constructed in 1953 to the designs of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Its oak interior is decorated with shields bearing the arms of City Livery Companies and banners of the twelve principal companies hang beneath the clerestory windows. A livery hall intended for the use of companies which do not have their own hall was also provided by Scott in 1957. The west crypt was restored in 1973 and has 19 stained glass windows depicting coat of arms of City Livery Companies. The Guildhall Art Gallery has five new stained glass windows depicting the Shipwrights, Environmental cleaners, Gardeners, Air Pilots & Air Navigators and Engineers Companies. The windows, installed to mark the Queen's Golden Jubliee in 2002, were designed by Stella Timmins.

Halls
There are now only 40 company halls in the City, varying in date from the 17thc to 2002, and all have been rebuilt or altered at some time. Many were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and during WWII.
More information including some photographs is available on a
separate page.

Visiting
Assuming you don't have contacts or the funds to hire the premises these are the options:
Tours can often be arranged for groups - apply in writing to the clerk.
Some Companies offer tours to the general public. Enquire at the City Information Centre (SW of St Paul's Cathedral).
Goldsmiths Hall is the venue for exhibitions which are open to the public - details will be on their
website.
The
City of London Festival which takes place in June/July uses some halls for events and organises architectural tours which may include Livery Halls.
Some Halls open for
London's Open House Weekend in September. In 2005 the Butchers, Drapers, Leathersellers, Mercers, Painter-Stainers, Vintners and Watermen & Lightermen took part.
The Guildhall is open to the public when not in use.

Resources
The London Encyclopaedia by Weinreb & Hibbert has notes on all the livery companies and their halls.
'Buildings of England - London 1: The City' by Bradley & Pevsner includes descriptions of 34 livery halls
'Discovering London's Guilds & Liveries' by John Kennedy Melling (Shire publication)
The City of London has produced a booklet 'City Livery Companies'. Copies may be available at the City Information Centre or Guildhall
The Guildhall Library bookshop may have books on some individual companies as well as general titles including the Directory of Livery Companies.
The Guildhall Library has archive material relating to the livery companies [
more info].
The
Collage database has plans and drawings of some of the halls.
The
Clockmakers have a museum within the Guildhall Library.
Some companies have their own archive collections which are available to researchers by arrangement.
If you have an interest in a particular company or hall you can write to the clerk for information.
There are links to company websites in the
listing above.
The City of London
website has a list of companies with links and a contact list which can be downloaded as a PDF document.
The Fishmongers website includes a
database with contact details and coat of arms for all the companies.

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london-footprints.co.uk 2013

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