THE COMPANY’S CHAPLAINCY CHURCH
THE PARISH CHURCH OF SAINT MARGARET LOTHBURY
The Company has for many years enjoyed a connection with the church of St. Margaret Lothbury where our armorial bearings are displayed in the window to the north-west of the church.
The church was built by Wren in 1690, the former church on this site having been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, and it survived the blitz of World War II. In some years, usually in April, members of the Company have been to the church for a service conducted by the Honorary Chaplain.
There are a number of possible origins of the name ‘Lothbury’, one of which that it is derived from ‘Lottenbury’ — a place where coppersmiths cast candlesticks and other items, as in the Middle Ages this area is known to have been largely occupied by coppersmiths.
ELECTION OF THE LORD MAYOR AND SHERIFFS
One of the obligations, and privileges, which attaches to the status of Liverymen is that of electing each year two Sheriffs and a Lord Mayor at Common Hall.
The election ceremonies take place in Great Hall at the Guildhall and those eligible to attend and vote are Liverymen of at least one year’s standing.
The election of the Sheriffs takes place on Midsummer’s Day (24th June) and that of the Lord Mayor on Michaelmas Day (29th September).*
The ceremonies are colourful and include the procession into the Hall of the Masters of the Livery Companies. On each occasion Great Hall is crowded, and Liverymen attending are advised to arrive early in order to get a seat!
Following the elections members of the Company, with a guest if they so wish, join Liverymen of other companies for an informal luncheon at a convenient Livery Hall. The Clerk sends information to all Liverymen for these events each year.
All Liverymen of one year’s standing eligible to vote are encouraged to attend each year and to exercise their right to vote in the elections. “Nothing is easier to abolish than a right which is not exercised.”
(*When these fall on a Saturday or Sunday the elections are held on the following Monday).
THE RELEVANCE OF LIVERY COMPANIES
(Sir Brian Jenkins, Lord Mayor 1991-1992)
The Livery is extremely relevant both in its own right and in the support it provides to the ethos of the City. For example, one of the main objectives of each Livery Company is the pursuit of excellence in its own trade or craft. Many Livery Companies are responsible for schools or training colleges, others support individual students. They also have a splendid reputation for caring, many of them supporting older people in sheltered housing. These things reflect important aspects of the City’s tradition and add up to perhaps the most important of all, which is the integrity of the Livery movement: they are trying to do things better in an honest and caring way. That notion of integrity is at the heart of the success of the City, and the Livery Companies set a marvellous example.
PRIVILEGES OF FREEMEN
The Freedom of the City of London was, for centuries, the key to every man who wished to exercise a craft or trade within the City. Privileges which attached to the Freedom included the right to vote, immunity from tolls at markets and fairs, freedom from conscription into the armed forces, and a right to trade. Today these freedoms are practically universal in Great Britain, but the Freedom is still one of the necessary qualifications for holding the office of Lord Mayor, Sheriff, Alderman or Common Councilman.
There are certain present-day privileges enjoyed by Freemen and their dependants and these include preference to a Freeman’s children for admission to one of the Corporation’s schools; orphan children of Freemen eligible for admission to the City of London Freemen’s School; widows of Freemen may receive small sums of money at Christmas time; Freemen in distressed circumstances may be admitted to one of the Corporation’s almshouses.
PRIVILEGES OF LIVERYMEN
Being Freemen of the City of London Liverymen enjoy all the privileges attaching to the Freedom.
In addition they have the right and the duty to attend and vote at the election of the Sheriffs on Midsummer Day, and at the election of a Lord Mayor on Michaelmas Day.
LIVERY COMPANIES’ HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Over half the Companies started life as guilds in medieval times when they played a vital role in the business and political life of London. The Livery Companies controlled standards and had the right to inspect and condemn inferior workmanship, thus protecting both their customers and their own craftsmen.
During the centuries many of the Companies’ original trades died out and they have in many cases embraced the modern equivalent. For example, the Fan Makers support the heating and ventilation trade and the Horners the plastics industry.
Since the 1950s the number of Companies has grown from 79 to 108 with many new Companies being formed to represent modern professions. Examples of these are the Chartered Accountants and Chartered Architects Companies. The latest company, the Security Professionals, was given the grant of Livery in 2008, demonstrating the way City life adapts to meet new circumstances and challenges.
Many Companies became Livery Companies by being granted Royal Charters and their titles start “The Worshipful Company of . . . ” Also often mentioned is the phrase the “art and mystery” of a Livery Company which is the medieval term for work. The term “livery” comes from feudal times when an allowance of clothing was given by barons, monastries, colleges or guilds to their own retainers. The Guilds were allowed to wear liveries as a form of identification at a time when others were not — which is how they came to be known as “the Livery Companies”.
The most important person in a Livery Company is the Master — in some cases known as the Prime Warden and in one case the Upper Bailiff — and he serves for one year. Before he becomes Master he will have been a Warden and served for some years on the Court of Assistants, a Livery Company’s governing body. The administrative work of the Company is carried out by the Clerk who can be likened to a Chief Executive. Most Companies also have a Beadle who assists the Master and Wardens on ceremonial occasions and acts as custodian, butler or executive.
Nowadays not all the Livery Companies have Halls. Over the centuries many Companies’ Halls were lost through fire or enemy action and now there are only 40 Halls with six dating back to the seventeenth century. Instead of a Hall the Master Mariners’ Company has a Sloop, HQS Wellington.
THE LORD MAYOR, THE CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION
AND THE LIVERY COMPANIES
The Livery Companies of the City of London form an honourable and historic part of the story of the development of the City.
It was thanks to the developing power of the Companies that the seeds of democracy took root and flourished in the City of London. Since 1500 it has been firmly established that the power of recognising a new Livery Company rests with the Court of Aldermen who also control the numbers, the ordinances of each Company and the minimum level of charitable funds which must be held. Freemen of Companies cannot be admitted to the Livery without first having taken up the Freedom of the City of London.
It is not surprising, therefore, that it has been said that “the story of the City of London Corporation without its Livery Companies and vice-versa would be like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark”.
The Livery Companies remain inextricably intertwined with the City Corporation. Through their Liverymen they are responsible for nominating the Lord Mayor (who is the Head of the City Corporation) and for electing the Sheriffs, and they do this at ancient ceremonies at Guildhall. This clearly demonstrates the interdependence between them.
The direct link through the Court of Aldermen has been further strengthened by contact with the Common Council through the Livery Committee. The objective of the Livery Committee, which consists of Liverymen, Members of the Court of Common Council and Clerks to Livery Companies, is to consider matters affecting the Livery interest, in particular to improve communication between the City and Livery Companies and act as a forum for discussion. This link is further strengthened by the fact that many Liverymen who live or work in the City are Members of the Corporation’s Court of Common Council, devoting much unpaid time to work on behalf of the City.
The very existence of the Livery means that there is an inner core of lovers of London pledged to maintain all that is best in the City’s ancient constitution, customs and traditions. This accords precisely with the objectives of the Lord Mayor and the City Corporation so they share the common aim of seeking excellence in all they do.
Appreciating the importance of the Livery, the City Corporation takes considerable care to support and inform the 24,000 Liverymen whom they regard as potential ambassadors. With this in mind all Liverymen receive ‘City View’, a regular magazine that keeps them up-to-date on the City plans and actions and the activities of the Lord Mayor.
The City has played an important role in the affairs of the nation for centuries. Together the City Corporation and the Livery provide continuity and stability, values which are critical to the well-being of the City’s international business community.
This partnership is manifested in the Guildhall where the banners and shields of the City Livery Companies gleam from the roof. The City Corporation will continue to nurture and expand this partnership by offering every assistance in the pursuit of common objectives.
THE ORIGINS OF LIVERY COMPANIES
To establish an understanding of the City Livery Companies one must look back to the period of Anglo Saxon London in the 11th century. Many of the trades and crafts that operated in the City (which was defined by the area of the old Roman Walls) formed themselves into Guilds, or friendly societies, to give protection and to promote their trade or craft.
After the Norman Conquest, William had recognised the strength of the City Guilds and the vital influence they held in the City of London. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle said, “. . . all the best men representing the Crafts and Guilds went from London to Berkhamsted Castle to accept William as King”. Terms were agreed and William entered London in peace and was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.
The King’s requirements of the City proved London’s opportunity and the determined citizens won from the Crown a succession of Charters which laid the foundations for the City’s Government, its Sheriffs and the Mayoralty. The first Lord Mayor was Henry FitzAylwin and his Mayoralty dated from 1189.
In 1215 King John signed a Charter which gave the citizens of London the right to elect their own Mayor annually, rather than accept the choice of the reigning Monarch. Ever since then the Lord Mayor of London has been elected by the Liverymen of the City’s Livery Companies in “Common Hall”.
The Guilds grew in strength, as more were formed and those already established became more influential. Leading Members took to wearing distinctive costumes or Liveries, many of which are still worn today during special ceremonies.
The oldest Guild is believed to be the Weavers. Mentioned in the Pipe Roll of 1130, its earliest Charter was granted in 1155. But most of those still in existence date from the 14th century. By this time they were held in such high esteem that Edward III bestowed Royal patronage by joining the Linen Armourers (now Merchant Taylors).
In later years there was a great deal of fighting between the Guilds or Livery Companies to establish seniority; “As Guilds fought for their position, or for their very existence, violent quarrels frequently broke out and there were pitched battles in the streets of London”. The great Companies armed their retainers like feudal barons and much blood was shed as Goldsmiths fought Taylors, Taylors fought Drapers, Pepperers fought Goldsmiths, and so on.
LIVERY COMPANIES OF THE CITY OF LONDON
Over the years certain of the Livery Companies have ceased to exist, several due to a decline in their particular trade, and some by being absorbed into other companies.
Examples of those that thrived during times gone by were the Maltmen, Bonnet Makers, Fariners & Fishermen, Starchmakers, Silkthrowers, Silkmen, Pinmakers, Soapmakers, Hatband Makers, Pursers, Galochemakers, Virginals-makers, Woodmongers, Heaumers.
The following is a list of Livery Companies in order of precedence:
- Merchant Taylors** &
- Wax Chandlers*
- Tallow Chandlers*
- Armourers and Braziers*
- Painter – Stainers*
- Tylers & Bricklayers
- Fletchers* 1
- Joiners and Ceilers
- Stationers and Newspaper Makers*
- Glaziers and Painters of Glass*2
- Framework Knitters
- Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers
- Glass Sellers
- Coachmakers and Coach-harness Makers
- Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers
- Makers of Playing Cards
- Fan Makers
- Master Mariners*
- Farmers* 1
- Air Pilots and Air Navigators
- Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders
- Furniture Makers*
- Scientific Instrument Makers*2
- Chartered Surveyors
- Chartered Accountants
- Chartered Secretaries and Administrators
- Builders’ Merchants
- Environmental Cleaners
- Chartered Architects
- Information Technologists*
- World Traders
- Water Conservators
- Fire Fighters
- Hackney Carriage Drivers
- Management Consultants
- International Bankers
- Tax Advisers
- Security Professionals
** Alternates each year between 6 & 7 (each has their own Hall)
* Companies having Halls
*1 *2 Shared Hall
Companies without Livery: Parish Clerks, Watermen & Lightermen*
The order of precedence was set by the City Fathers in 1515 and is based on each Livery Company’s influence at that time, thus, the order of precedence has little, if any, relation- ship, to the age of a Company. For example, the Weavers’ Company is 42 in precedence but believed to be the oldest chartered craft in the City with a Charter starting in 1155; the Mercers’ Company is number 1 in precedence and has a Charter dated 1394.
Companies or Guilds anticipating Livery: Public Relations Practitioners; Educators; Art Scholars, Dealers and Collectors.
CLERKS TO THE TIN PLATE WORKERS’ COMPANY
1670 PHILIP PROBYN
1679 JOHN BELL
1695 EDWARD NORTH
1729 NATHANIEL POOLE
1749 CHARLES BAINBRIDGE
1766 MIDFORD YOUNG
1802 WILLIAM MITTON
1819 JAMES EDWARD POWNALL
1825 GEORGE GODDARD
1838 EDWARD BURKITT
1881 EDWARD HERBERT BURKITT
1891 JAMES CURTIS, F.S.A.
1894 ERNEST ARTHUR EBBLEWHITE, LL.D., F.S.A.
1937 STEPHEN WILLIAM PRICE
1952 RANDALL H. MONIER-WILLIAMS
1957 BRUCE DEHN
1981 GEORGE ANDREW HILL
1988 ROBERT GEOFFREY VINCENT (Honorary Clerk)
1989 ANNABEL MARIAN IRVING
1991 S. JOHN HOLT
1998 MICHAELHENDERSON-BEGG, C.C.
2012 PIERS BAKER
THE CRAFT OF THE TIN PLATE WORKER AND THE WIRE WORKER
Tin plating of fabricated copper and bronze objects for decorative purposes dates from at least Roman times. However the tin plate industry was probably the earliest to employ pre-coated sheet for the production of finished articles. Tinning hammered iron sheet to produce a durable material from which objects could be fashioned probably originated in Bavaria in the 14th Century and subsequently spread throughout Europe, reaching Britain early in the 17th Century.
The early use of tinplate was for fabricating domestic utensils — pots, pans, plates, drinking vessels, candle holders, lanterns, boxes, etc. However the industry grew with the invention by Nicolas Appert in 1810 of a means of preserving sterilised food in sealed containers and especially by the adapta- tion of the process to the preservation of food in tin plate containers by John Hall and Bryan Donkin in London in 1812. Today canned food and beverages account for some 90% of tinplate consumption, the remainder goes to a variety of light engineering applications.
Until the middle of the 20th Century the sheets were coated by immersion in molten tin, but today the tin coating is applied by continuous electroplating of thin steel strip in high speed processing lines, operating at up to 600 m/min.
The term wire embraces a wide range of metal products ranging from threads to fine rods or bars of uniform cross-section. Thus defined, wire is of ancient origin, with evidence of gold wire dating back to around 2700 BC. These early examples were probably produced by hammering.
The modern process of producing round wire by drawing a rod through a series of holes of decreasing diameter is believed to have originated in the 8th and 9th Centuries AD. Commercial wire drawing developed in Europe in the 13th and 14th Centuries, reaching England in around 1465.
The wide variety of wire products leads to manifold uses, ranging from pins, needles, nails and screws to heavy wire ropes. Apart from the more obvious applications, steel wire is also used for office sundries; for the production of springs, and for manufacturing mesh, including reinforcing for window glass. Flat wire is employed to make such items as grilles for domestic cookers. If non-ferrous wire is included, the range of applications multiplies to embrace uses as diverse as telecommunications and jewellery.
It is hoped that this very brief account illustrates how the crafts of the Tin Plate Worker and the Wire Worker have contributed to all our lives, from earliest times to the present day.
THE CITY OF LONDON
The City of London is only one small part of London itself. Yet it is the financial and commercial heart of Great Britain. It has its own local government, the City of London Corporation, based at Guildhall, its own Lord Mayor, its own Police Force and is responsible for running the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey. It is known as the ‘Square Mile’ and sits within the original Roman Wall on the north bank of the river Thames. Its responsibilities extend far beyond the City boundaries in that it provides a host of additional facilities for the benefit of the nation. These range from open spaces such as Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath to the famous Barbican Centre.
The City of London is the world leader in international financial and business services — a global powerhouse at the heart of the UK financial services industry. Over 300,000 people daily come to work in the City, the one square mile in the centre of the metropolis that drives the whole of London’s economy.
The UK financial services industry contributes nearly 10% of the country’s GDP, rising to 20% if related business services are included. The sector generates many billions of pounds for the UK balance of payments each year and it is estimated that over 60% of this comes specifically from the Square Mile itself.
The City of London is the world’s largest centre for foreign exchange; international bank lending; fund management; maritime activity; and international insurance.
The City has more corporate headquarters than any other European centre and continues to attract — as it always has — the majority of the world’s largest and most important monetary firms. The City plays a vital role in the economic well being of London as a whole. The City also has a flourishing residential population of some 8,000 people and is a dynamic and culturally diverse area, rich in heritage and a great place to live, work and visit.
The City of London Corporation’s prime role is to promote and support the Square Mile. Its services sustain the City’s 24 hour operational needs, its strategic economic development positions the City for the future and every opportunity is taken to ensure that the City continues to thrive as the world leader in international finance and business services and Europe’s financial capital.
CITY LIVERY CLUB
The City Livery Club was founded in 1914 to provide a centre for Liverymen and Freemen of the City Livery Companies to meet together to uphold and strengthen the traditions and privileges of the City of London Corporation (the City Civic); to encourage the Livery to exercise its right to elect the Sheriffs and to nominate Aldermen for the Office of Lord Mayor. The Club promotes active participation in the City’s governance and fosters good fellowship among its members who also include members of the Guild of Freemen, the City Ward Clubs (see below) and Freemen of the City.
It achieves these objectives through a varied programme of formal and social events, a regular newsletter, a website and special interest Sections including Aero, Golf, Motoring and Music. There is also an annual Club holiday.
Located at Bell Wharf Lane, Upper Thames Street, EC4 is a Club Room, Restaurant and Bar overlooking the River Thames. It also has reciprocal arrangements with leading Clubs in the UK and Overseas.
For further information please visit the website: www.cityliveryclub.com
GUILD OF FREEMEN
All Liverymen must first be Freemen of the City of London before being Admitted to Livery. Freemen of the Company, and others, may apply for Freedom of the City (the Clerk will be pleased to assist any member who wishes to make application).
Freemen of the City may apply to join the Guild of Freemen which was founded in 1908 to bring together free men and women for the purposes of charity, benevolence, education and social interaction.
With over 3,000 members the Guild is very active with a full programme of social activities throughout the year which generally includes receptions in various livery halls, an Annual Banquet at Guildhall attended by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and a variety of other events including a day at Sandown Park.
Further details may be obtained from the Clerk, Brigadier Michael Keun, PO Box 1202, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 7XB. (Tel: 020 8541 1435).
SOCIETY OF YOUNG FREEMEN
The Society of Young Freemen was formed under the auspices of the City of London Corporation in October 1976 with the purpose of bringing together people under the age of 40 who hold the Freedom of the City of London. The Society’s aim is to promote an interest in the City and to provide opportunities to learn about the history of the City, to visit City institutions and to gain an insight to the Government of the City as it deals with current issues.
Further details may be obtained from the website: www.youngfreemen.org
THE UNITED WARDS’ CLUB OF THE CITY OF LONDON
This Club, founded over 125 years ago in 1877, is one of the oldest Clubs in the City of London. It is primarily an association of men and women working in the City connected with, or otherwise interested in, the civic life of the City. Its purpose is to promote the spirit of Citizenship among its members and to help maintain the high traditions and prestige of the City. Successive Lord Mayors have been Patrons of the Club and its Members include Aldermen, Common Councilmen, Liverymen, Freemen of the City and members of other Ward Clubs.
The Club’s regular annual functions include a Banquet held at the Mansion House in January attended by the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs and their Ladies; an Annual General Meeting and Dinner in March and a Church Carol Service and Luncheon in the Guildhall Old Library in December. Additionally various visits in the City and elsewhere take place at about monthly intervals.
To find out more details please see the Club’s website: www.unitedwards.org or write to the Secretary: Maggi Willis, 122 Empire Court, North End Road, Wembley Park, Middlesex HA9 0AH. Tel: 020 8902 0390.
THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ST. GEORGE
(CITY OF LONDON BRANCH)
The objects of this Society is to foster a love of England, to spread the knowledge of English history and “to ensure that St. George’s Day is properly celebrated”, etc.
The Society holds a series of excellent functions, one of the finest being an Annual Christmas Banquet at Mansion House which is one of the most glittering and lively events in the City’s social calendar.
Information may be obtained from the Honorary Secretary, J. C. F. B. Byllam-Barnes, Walsingham House, Oldfield Gardens, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 2NA. (Tel: 01372 277667, Fax: 01372 271533).
LUNCHTIME COMMENT CLUB
Founded in 1919 this prestigious Club meets about four times each year by holding a luncheon which attracts speakers of the highest calibre who address the members after lunch.
Speakers have included a number of Prime Ministers, Archbishops, the Chief Rabbi, Ministers of State, Ambassadors, politicians, authors, and a great number of interesting and influential people.
The joining fee is modest and members pay only for their luncheon; guests are welcome.
For more information please see the Clubs’ website: www.lunchtimecomment.com or write to the Lunch Secretary, Jenny Long, Maze Lodge, Forest Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3BZ. (Tel: 020 8940 3636). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Membership Secretary is Nick Williams. Email: email@example.com
There are twenty-five Wards in the City of London each being represented on the Court of Common Council by elected representatives.
Most Wards have a Ward Club and although membership requirements vary, most of the Clubs welcome new members.
Membership can be stimulating and can provide a deeper understanding of City matters and most of the Clubs have a series of inexpensive social events.
Any member of the Company wishing to join a Ward Club should contact the Clerk who will provide details of those which might be of interest.
THE WARDS OF THE CITY OF LONDON
The City of London has twenty-five Wards (or electoral districts) each of which has an Alderman and a number of Commoners of whom one is nominated Deputy (to the Alderman). Under the terms of the new City Franchise, which broadened the base of the electorate, Commoners were elected for a four-year term in March 2009. Currently the ward boundaries are being reviewed with any changes being implemented in time for the next elections due in March 2013.
In alphabetical order the Wards are shown below with the number of Commoners of each Ward shown in brackets.
Commoners form the Court of Common Council, and although many are Liverymen, this is not a requirement for a candidate
BREAD STREET (2)
BRIDGE AND BRIDGE WITHOUT (2)
BROAD STREET (3)
CASTLE BAYNARD (7)
COLEMAN STREET (5)
FARRINGDON WITHIN (8)
FARRINGDON WITHOUT (10)
LIME STREET (3)
THE ROLE OF THE LORD MAYOR
The Lord Mayor of the City of London is head of the City of London Corporation, the provider of local government services for the Square Mile, and he presides over its governing bodies, the Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council. Within the City only the Sovereign takes precedence.
He is also
Chief Magistrate of the City of London
Admiral of the Port of London President of the City of London Reserve Forces and Cadets Association
Trustee of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Chancellor of the City University
and President or Patron of many other civic and charitable organisations.
Outside the City, the Lord Mayor ranks after the Members of the Cabinet. On behalf of the Sovereign, and the Government, he regularly acts as host for visiting heads of state and foreign dignitaries.
However, the Lord Mayor has a much wider business role, working for Britain as a whole and supporting London as a leading world financial centre. He travels abroad extensively, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, fostering goodwill and boosting British trade, particularly the markets and services of the City of London. Important contacts are made at diplomatic and business level. He also makes many UK visits which keep him in tune with regional economic activity and promote the contribution the City can make.
His role, at home and abroad, is enhanced by the entirely non party-political nature of his office and of the City Corporation, and his activities reflect not only his ceremonial and diplomatic importance but his position as a trusted spokesman for the business and financial community.
SHERIFFS AND ALDERMEN
Both the offices of Sheriff and Alderman date back to the Middle Ages and reflect their long-standing importance in the government of the City of London.
The office of Sheriff is of greater antiquity than any other in the City of London. Until the institution of the Mayoralty in 1189, Sheriffs or ‘Shire Reeves’ governed the City as the King’s representatives, collected royal revenues and enforced royal justice.
Today two Sheriffs are elected on Midsummer’s Day every year in Guildhall by the City livery companies. Their duties include attending the Lord Mayor in carrying out his official duties, attending the sessions at the Central Criminal Court in the Old Bailey in their capacity as City Magistrates and presenting petitions from the City to Parliament at the Bar at the House of Commons.
Since 1385 when the Court of Common Council stipulated that every future Lord Mayor should “have previously been Sheriff so that he may be tried as to his governance and bounty before he attains to the Estate of Mayor”, the shrieval year of an Aldermanic Sheriff provides a testing- ground for a person who aspires one day to be elected Lord Mayor of London.
This year’s Sheriffs are Alderman Alan Yarrow, and Wendy Mead, C.C.
References to aldermen or ’elder men’ can be traced back to Saxon times, but the first mention of an alderman of London by name appears in 1111. The Court of Aldermen administered the City before the evolution of the Court of Common Council but its functions contracted as those of Common Council developed. Today the full Aldermanic Court, summoned and presided over by the Lord Mayor, meets on about nine Tuesdays in the year in the Aldermen’s Court Room in Guildhall. At Court of Aldermen meetings, aldermen wear violet gowns. Fur trimmed scarlet gowns and chains of office are worn on certain ceremonial occasions.
Aldermen have jurisdiction over their wards and for centuries the twenty-five wards of the City have each had an alderman. Upon admission to the Court of Aldermen, an alderman automatically becomes a Justice of the Peace for the City of London. They also serve on Common Council committees, act as governors and trustees of a variety of schools, hospitals, charitable foundations and trusts with ancient City connections and are also occupied with livery companies, ceremonial events and Freedoms of the City.
THE CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION
The City of London Corporation provides local government services for the City of London, the financial and commercial heart of Britain. It is committed to maintaining and enhancing the status of the business City as the world’s leader in Interational finance and business services through the policies it pursues and the high standard of services it provides. Its responsibilities extend far beyond the City boundaries where it also provides a host of additional facilities which range from open spaces such as Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath to the famous Barbican Arts Centre.
In addition to local authority services, such as town planning, housing, education, social services, environmental health and waste management, the City Corporation performs a number of very special functions. It runs its own police force and the nation’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey. It provides five Thames Bridges, runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow Airport and is the Port Health Authority for the whole of the Thames tidal estuary. Three premier wholesale food markets, Billingsgate, Spitalfields and Smithfield, also belong to the City Corporation. Many of these services are funded from its own investments at no cost to the public.
The City Corporation combines its ancient traditions and ceremonial functions with the role of a modern and efficient local authority, dedicated to the needs of its residents, City businesses and the hundreds of thousands of people who come to work in the City every day. Among local authorities it is unique; not only is it the oldest in the country but it operates on a non-party political basis through the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Members of the Court of Common Council.