L is for Livery Halls #atozchallenge

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London is, of course, pretty ancient. It’s position on a tidal river means it has always been a  trading port and attracted craftspeople from the rest of the country and the wider world. As Britain’s influence and power grew and its wealth blossomed, guilds to protect these trade people also developed, starting in Medieval times and continuing to the present day. They are in a way the precursor to the trade unions, but for the self employed.

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Goldsmiths Hall

These morphed over time into

Livery Companies

a number of Companies of the City of London descended from the medieval trade guilds. They are now largely social and charitable organizations

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The Guildhall, on the day I visited there was some event

You cannot work in the City without coming across one or more of these entities, whether it is a lunch in a  grand Victorian piece of splendour, the charitable fund raising sponsored by a company or a friend who corners you on the benefits of joining a Livery – these days you do not need to be a vintner or salt maker, leather-worker or goldsmith to belong: pay a fee and sign a form and you are in.

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Warning: penguins at one o’clock!

The thing about Livery companies and Livery halls is their longevity; they’ve been around from hundreds of years, they remain for the most part well heeled and, with the talents of the City at their disposal, pretty well run. Best of all their Halls, their centres of operation, add an architectural addition to the City’s landscape.

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They all have rather grand heraldic shields

Many are obvious

Ironmongers, Gun makers and Joiners

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Or pub signs…

Some less so

Fletchers, Lightmongers and Loriners

In total there are 110 Livery companies and the number is growing; the oldest Charter is for the Weavers in 1100s and the most recent, the Arts Scholars in 2014.

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And lots of ancient badges – I think these are insurance plates but who knows (the Archaeologist probably)

In 1515 the Aldermen of the City of London…

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And some are very security conscious – note this was opposite the Old lady of Threadneedle street, aka The Bank Of England

(Digression coming: one of the quirky traditions of Local Government in England is that there isn’t an entity that is the City of London (Or Westminster or wherever)

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but it is made up of the current incumbents of certain posts who comprise

The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the City of London

And when writing a legal document this is how you describe the contracting party)…

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The Old and New worlds of financial power – to the left the Bank of England, to the right the Bank of China… somehow the politics of the geography has become somewhat misaligned…

determined the priority of the Livery Companies and created a notable 12 (some of whom are amongst the richest such establishments anywhere)

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Worshipful Company of Mercers (general merchants)

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Worshipful Company of Grocers (spice merchants)

Worshipful Company of Drapers (wool and cloth merchants)

Worshipful Company of Fishmongers

Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths (bullion dealers)

Worshipful Company of Skinners* (fur traders)

Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors* (tailors)

Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (clothiers in sewn and fine materials, eg. silk & velvet)

Worshipful Company of Salters (traders of salts and chemicals)

Worshipful Company of Ironmongers

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One joy of the City is the continued use of medieval street names representing the trades that sold their goods and wares there.

Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants)

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Vintners hall with appropriately placed cleaner, since these chaps tend to clean up…

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Even the ironmongery around the neighbouring church reflects the Vintners nearby

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and the cute statuary

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here explained

Worshipful Company of Clothworkers

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Even humble (cough cough) Solicitors have a livery which we were all encouraged to join but, like so many organisations that populate the city, membership seems to involve a vaguely camp fancy dress and I am congenitally opposed to the mass slaughter of ermine just to create a stole. So sadly for you there are no photos of me dressed like a penguin auditioning for a place in the Village People line up.

This is part of the 2016 A to Z Blogging challenge. Please click here to find your way to other participants.

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About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in A to Z blogging challenge, London, miscellany and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to L is for Livery Halls #atozchallenge

  1. gordon759 says:

    “So sadly for you there are no photos of me dressed like a penguin auditioning for a place in the Village People line up.”
    What a pity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    Lots more great pics and info Geoffles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If all else fails Geoff there’s a place for you as a tour and history guide for the City of London! Great stuff, I’m thoroughly enjoying your dashes of insight!

    Liked by 1 person

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