30.10.23 Liveryman Roger Woodbridge

Behind the scenes at the election of the Lord Mayor

One of the privileges of being a Liveryman is an invitation to attend the election of the new Lord Mayor every year at the Guildhall. This year’s gathering of all those involved took place on 28th September.

The ‘great and the good’ of the City mustered in the quadrangle. On the flagstones is marked a large 80m circle which depicts the site of the original Roman Amphitheatre built in AD70. No executions were to happen today, however, but the pomp and ceremony were as good as any Roman festival.

The ceremony is steeped in wonderful English tradition. The history of the office of the Lord Mayor dates back to 1189. The Mayor has been elected rather than appointed by the Sovereign ever since a Royal Charter issued by King John in 1215.

The first part of the ceremony gets under way after the Lord Mayor sweeps in with his entourage.

Then a magnificent procession of Aldermen, Sheriffs, Masters, Clerks, and Liverymen file across the yard to the church in order of precedence. Originally settled in 1515, the ranking for the then 48 Livery Companies then in existence was established. The 12 highest ranked companies are known as The Great Twelve.

Today the procession consists of 112 Masters representing their Livery Companies.

The Coachmakers was ably represented by our Master Bettine Evans. As an aside, the term “at sixes and sevens“ refers to the long running dispute between the Merchant Taylors and Skinners Livery Companies dating back to 1327. Today the Skinners’ Master was in sixth position in the procession.

After a charming and poignant church service, everyone proceeded to the Common Hall which was full to capacity, indeed the adjacent halls were used to relay the ceremony for those not lucky enough to get seats. All liverymen are entitled to vote to elect the 695th Lord Mayor.

After a 12-minute recess the new Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli emerged to rapturous applause.

Following on from the ceremony the Coachmakers fell back to Tallow Chandlers’ Hall for a splendid lunch.

Six other Livery Companies were present so it was an excellent opportunity to meet fellow Liveryman we would not normally meet.