Coachlines - January 2022

26.01.22 Past Master Martin Payne

A peek inside the City’s Livery Halls

As a Livery Company that no longer has our own hall, we have the opportunity and privilege to visit others. This is an excellent way of learning and understanding more about the traditions of the City. In an occasional series of articles for Coachlines, PM Martin Payne will explore some of the 38 Livery Company Halls scattered throughout the city.

In the City of London there are 110 Livery Companies. The older ones began as trade guilds, associations established to protect and regulate the various trades, by insisting on certain standards of material and craftsmanship and caring for less fortunate members. Through the ages, the Companies became influential in the government of the City and became recognised as suitable bodies to which benefactors could entrust charitable monies.

They are called Livery Companies because in the early 14th century many of them assumed distinctive dress and Edward III was known to have been clothed in his livery when attending the Merchant Taylors.

The guilds, whose members engaged in trade and overseas commerce or in luxury goods, were of greater influence and standing than the others, and the present accepted order of precedence, laid down in 1515 for the 48 Companies then in existence, is largely a recognition of this. There is reference in the City records in 1376 to ‘Twelve Principal Mysteries’ and it is known that in the 14th century eight of today’s Great Twelve Companies provided 220 out of 235 aldermen.

In this month’s article PM Martin Payne takes us to Tallow Chandlers’ Hall on Dowgate Hill.