A couple of weeks ago I was honoured to attend a City Livery Club dinner where of all things I sat next to a lady whose real name was Christina – and even more amazingly she was married to a man called Pete! How extraordinary is that!
In addition, she was red headed and very attractive so, particularly as her husband was young and charming (unlike the old curmudgeon Pete to whom you are used) I had a very pleasant evening – for a change!!
The dinner I attended was in the City of London at one of the City Livery companies for the inauguration of the master for the coming year. A fine and delicious meal with exceptional service and with carol singing afterwards.
The City of London Livery Companies are in the main ancient institutions which were, for ease of description, the fore runners of Trade Unions set up in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries as a way of preserving quality and service against ‘cowboy’ competition – not much changes then does it! It is, however, important to stress that these ancient companies were ‘the bosses’ and not ‘the workers’. I suppose therefore that they are more akin to modern Trade Associations.
That these still exist at all, through all the tribulations of the passed several hundred years of war and attrition, is a credit to all who have ever been associated with them. For those who are unaware, the Lord Mayor of London is elected from these companies – the Mayor of London is totally different and a relatively modern institution voted for by the population of Greater London.
Almost every Company has its own hall, the most attractive of all, in my humble opinion, being that of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers of which I show you but a taste and which
from a rather non descript entrance on Dowgate Hill, EC4 reveals this on the inside
all ready for a sumptuous meal!
The history behind these companies is often fascinating and can span several hundred years. Below are some links for you to learn more on some of them – in many cases the halls are available for rent (for a particular occasion) and most, to the best of my knowledge, may be visited and include fantastic relics and collections of art and artefacts. If you have the time during a visit to London it could make a very different day out.
All are within the ‘Square Mile’ of the City of London (financial district) and include
The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers – whose hall is very modern.
and there are, in total, 105 Companies covering all sorts of ‘trades’. I think the most modern is Airline Pilots, but am ready to be corrected.
All used to have their own hall but a number of them have ‘lost’ their halls for manifold reasons. Some due to war damage and the lack of funds to replace them, and some for example, The Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights who lost all their money (and hall!) on a gamble on the South Sea Bubble in 1720 – makes the Technology crash of the ’90s look tame!!!
I sincerely hope that at a future dinner in one of these fantastic venues I may have the pleasure of meeting you, diablog, or renewing acquaintance with the Gucci/Mozart/Vivienne Westwood loving Christina.
Such a refreshing change from ours who only knows Primark!!
Yours and impressed diablog,