Livery Companies of London

voluntary associations or fraternities for the encouragement of good fellowship and hospitality

The first definite mention of a London Guild occurs in the case of the Weavers, whose dues to the crow are recorded in the Exchequer Roll of 1130. Henry II in his charter granted to them the same rights as they had enjoyed under his grandfather Henry 1. In the same Roll the 'Goldsmiths of London' are referred to as though they were already an organised body, Before the end of the twelfth century, the Bakers, Pepperers, Clothworkers and Butchers are also mentioned,

Records in 1376 list 48 Mysteries of the City of London.

The Worshipful Company of Bakers

As early as 168 BC, bakers were the only craftsmen in Rome who were "freedmen" of the City, all other trades were being conducted as slaves. The whole craft was incorporated in a collect of bakers - COLLEGIUM PISTORUM - and was of so high repute in the affairs of the state for one of its representatives to have a seat in the Senate. It is clear therefore that a craft fraternity must have subsisted also in London during the Roman occupation.

The first known records of the existence of the Bakers’ Guild are contained in the great ‘Pipe Rolls’ of Henry II which listed the yearly ‘farm’ paid to the Crown and in these it is shown that the Bakers of London (the BOLENGARII) paid a Mark of gold to the King’s Exchequer for their Guild from 1155 AD onwards. Only the Weaver’s guild have an entry a few years earlier in the Rolls, so the Bakers, based on these records, can claim to be the second oldest guild in London.

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers

The earliest known document which refers to the Saddlers of London is a scrap of parchment, now in the library of Westminster Abbey where it was taken following the dissolution of the Church of St Martin-le-Grand. It records the details of an agreement between the church and the Guild of Saddlers and has been variously dated between 1160 and 1193. The only older documentary evidence which still exists in connection with a present-day livery company is the Grant of Liberties to the Weavers of London in 1140.

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1395 and subsequent supplementary charters granted by succeeding monarchs confirmed and amplified these. It is known that the Company had adopted a shield bearing the device of a chevron between three saddles before Richard III established the College of Arms in 1484 in order to rationalise and control the heraldry of England. Nevertheless, in 1585 the Company approached Robert Cooke, then Clarenceux Ring of Arms, for confirmation of the right to display arms and this was duly issued on 20th October 1585 together with the grant of crest and supporters, and - unusually - two mottoes. The original grant was lost when the first Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of l666

The Art and Mystery of Wax Chandlers

1330 - the Wax Chandlers were one of 20 crafts which contributed to a 'present' for the king, Edward III.

By 1484 the Livery had become sufficiently prosperous to allow it to aquire a Royal Charter, the Company's Charter was granted by Richard III in 1484 The Company was formerly associated with the Gild of Jesus, a religious fraternity at St Paul's Cathedral. Until the Reformation it payed for the candles which burned perpetually in the Jesus chapel in St Pauls crypt. (Since WW II, the company has revived this tradition by supplying the candles for the high altar of St. Paul's.) Each year the Company elected its Master in the Jesus Chapel after the Gild service for the Transfiguration of our Lord - August 6th

The Worshipful Company of Carpenters

The Carpenters' Company is one of the City of London's oldest livery companies, its existence being recorded as early as 1271. The Company's "Boke of Ordinances" (1333) charged it with safeguarding the welfare of its members and of the craft in general. Together with the Masons', the Carpenters' Company regulated the building trade in the City of London and oversaw carpentry training through the apprenticeship system. Through income derived from property holdings, the Company continues to support a broad range of charitable and educational interests.

The Worshipful Company of Horners

The earliest extant written reference to the Worshipful Company of Horners was in 1284 but the craft of the horner dates back to "tyme out of mynde". Cournucopia, the horn of plenty, featured in classical literature; bronze age artefacts often contain horn and sounding horns (shofars) are described in the Old Testament.

Horn was inexpensive and readily available and was used for containing solids and liquids and for bugles and simple musical instruments. In addition elaborately decorated horns were used for the conveyancing of land and property. Horn is a natural thermoplastic and can be worked by heat and pressure to make a wide variety of artefacts, such as beakers, buckles, combs and buttons. It can also be pressed into thin translucent sheets that can be used for windows and lanterns (a name believed to be a corruption of lant-horns).

The Worshipful Company of Horners originally controlled the purchase and sale of raw horns within 24 miles of the City of London and the early statutes were to protect these rights. In addition, the Company controlled the trade by limiting its membership, assuring quality and controlling the admittance of apprentices. It also acted as a welfare organisation, looking after widows and attending to funerals. The Company operates under a Charter received from Charles I in 1638 but it is known that there were earlier charters.

Many, if not all, of the artefacts previously made in horn began to be made from plastics and in 1943, the Horners became closely associated with the plastics industry.

The Worshipful Company of Farriers

The craft of farriery is as old as Christendom. There is evidence that iron shoes were in use in Britain before the Roman invasion and certainly during the occupation. The Romans used pack animals in large numbers as well as light cavalry horses, and all these were shod.

The arrival of the Normans with William the Conqueror had considerable influence on the art of farriery to Britain, and in the 13th.and 14th centuries farm animals began to be shod.

In 1356 the farriers of the City of London were called together by the Mayor and established a fellowship. As a result of the Great fire of London 1666 little is known of what transpired in the next 300 or so years as the Company's records were destroyed. It is known that in 1692, the Company was, recorded by the Court of Aldermen, as having been in existence since 1356, as Marshalls of the City.

The modern history of the Company begins with the grant of the first Charter by King Charles II on 17th January 1674. The Company was raised or as was claimed at the time restored, to the status as one of the Livery Companies of the City of London by the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen in 1692.

Today the membership of the Worshipful Company of Farriers consists of craft farriers, veterinary surgeons and an amalgam of persons committed to the welfare of the Horse, the continuing of the craft and contributing to the success of the City of London.

The Worshipful Company of Turners

Successor of the Guild of Turners, it received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1604 (51st in seniority)

There is evidence that from 1347 the Guild was growing in importance; in that year, Turners were instructed by the Mayor and Aldermen to ensure that their measuring vessels of turned wood conform to the City standards. Each Turner was to have a mark of his own placed on the bottom of such measures for identification when they were examined for quality. In 1497 a full set of ordinances was submitted by the Turners to the Mayor, and approved. Typical of the period, these regulations for the craft guild covered the supervision and protection of the member's trade, mutual help and charity, apprentice training and so on.

The products of the Turners craft (based always on the lathe, the world's first machine tool) included wooden measures an a variety of household and farm articles, tables and chair legs, balusters for staircases, landings and balconies and embellishments for many other products.

Today the Company's main purpose is the support and encouragement of the craft of turning in every aspect both ancient and modern, placing especial emphasis on technical and technological education

The Worshipful Company of Upholders

The first mention of upholders acting as an organised group occurs in 1346 when they petitioned the King for protection against unfair competition from France. They obtained ordinances and recognition as a separate mystery in 1360 and a grant of arms from the College of Arms in 1465 - one of the earliest of such grants.

Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries they sought to consolidate their position by obtaining Acts of Parliament to outlaw bad craftsmanship such as the use of materials other than properly treated feathers for stuffing and pillows, etc.

The Company, along with many other City Companies, supported the colonisation of Virginia and received it first Royal Charter (now unfortunately lost) from Charles I in 1626. A new exemplification was obtained in a further Royal Charter in 1668 from Charles II. The Charter laid down standards of craftsmanship and gave enforcement powers to the Company in respect of all upholders within the City of London and a seven mile radius.

In more recent times the Company has sought to encourage both traditional and innovative upholstery by awarding prizes to designers and manufacturers as well as bursaries to trainees.

The Clockmakers' Company was founded by Royal Charter in 1631. Its purpose then was to regulate and encourage the "art and mystery" of watch and clockmaking, together with related skills, such as engraving, instrument making and gilding, within (and slightly beyond) the City boundaries. The Company took particular interest in quality control (having the power to seize and destroy poorly made items), training (through the apprenticeship system) and welfare (through its charities).

The Worshipful Company of Fan Makers

Fans have been used from earliest times all over the world and they are known to have been made in this country from the fourteenth century. Queen Elizabeth 1st had a collection. The industry was given an enormous boost when many Huguenot Fan Makers established themselves here after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

The Company was established twenty four years later as a direct response to the threat of cheap continental imports as a result of a petition to Queen Anne and thus became the youngest of the old City Companies, number 76, the last to be founded by Royal Charter, 'to promote and encourage the said art and manufacture within our Cities of London and Westminster and twenty miles round.'

The manufacture of fans flourished during the eighteenth century but fell away steadily thereafter in spite of the best efforts of the Company which sponsored exhibitions and competitions.

The Company now does its best to conserve a collection of fans and numbers a traditional fan maker amongst its membership. The modern interest which the Company fosters is the mechanical fan in its multifarious applications from the aircraft industry to air conditioning.

The Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers

In previous centuries, scientific instruments have been made through the skills of blacksmiths, clock makers and spectacle makers. Rapid expansion of science and technology in the present century, such as those in optics, electronics and computers, made it necessary to have a company entirely devoted to the advancement of scientific instrument making. It began in 1916 as the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers Association Ltd., expanding into the Scientific Instrument Manufacturers Association (SIMA) Ltd. in 1953.

Members of SIMA decided to form a Guild to be known as the Company of Scientific Instrument Makers in 1956. That year, the royal College of Heralds awarded a coat of arms, including Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday, to represent optical and electrical aspects. Then, in 1964, the City of London awarded a charter to give Livery status, forming the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers

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