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The traditions of the City of London and its Livery Companies

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The traditions of the City of London and its Livery Companies rival those of the Royal Household for their displays of pageantry and public spectacle, blending of the past with the present and sense of majesty that no other city can rival. The fact that more troops of the Crown participate in the annual Lord Mayor's Show than parade in the Sovereign's annual birthday parade (Trooping the Colour) illustrates the scale of the City's ability to put on a show. In fact the word show when taken to mean a public spectacle derives from the requirement that the City's elected chief magistrate 'show himself' to the Monarch or his justices and swear allegiance, hence the Lord Mayor's Show.

The early 20th century antiquarian and author Dr George Williamson captured the panoply of City ceremonial in Curious Survivals, a book presented to Queen Mary and now in the Royal Collection. The opening chapter of his comprehensive work on British customs and traditions reads thus…

Why Liverymen should petition the Crown for Arms

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Petitioning for a grant of arms is, without a doubt, among the most unusual things I have done and yet it has been one of the most fascinating experiences, triggering a study of the subject that has proven immensely rewarding. The result of the petitioning process will also outlast me because arms are hereditary in English law and have already passed to my children.

I believe that every Liveryman should, if they have the qualification, means and motivation, petition the Crown for a grant of arms to continue the City's centuries old custom of burgesses acquiring armorial bearings.

When the Heralds last conducted a systematic survey of armigerous persons in the City of London the late 1700s almost 1 in 3 of the residents of some of the City's wards were armigerous (had a lawful right to armorial bearings). That is a vast concentration of gentry in a tiny area and reflects the nature of the mercantile elite that lived cheek by jowl in the commercial heart of the United Kingdom a…

The City's relationship with the Monarch and the Royal Family

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Of all the myth and lore that envelopes the Square Mile perhaps none is more persistent than the idea that the Monarch has to ask permission to enter the City of London and may not do so without the permission of the Lord Mayor. While it is true to say that the City's relationship with the Crown is complex and exceptionally ancient, the myth that the Monarch is in some way subordinate to the Lord Mayor is simply nonsense. The very fact that the Lord Mayor has to make an oath of allegiance to the Monarch at the Royal Courts of Justice during the annual Lord Mayor's Show should put paid to this myth, yet it continues to spread.

The genesis of this myth is likely to be the Ceremony of the Pearl Sword which has, from time to time, been held at the former site of Temple Bar on Fleet Street. During the ceremony the Monarch's carriage procession draws up, the City Police pull a red cord across the street where Temple Bar once stood, the royal procession stops, the Lord Mayor appr…

The City Livery Club's Root and Branch Award

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In 2014 the City Livery Club celebrated its centenary and marked the occasion in several ways including the publication of the Club's history (One hundred not out) and by instituting an award to recognise 'exceptional service within and across the Livery'. 

The City Livery Club's Root and Branch Award is unique in that it is the only pan Livery award and in just four years it has become a hallmark of excellence for Liverymen who have supported the wider aims of the Livery in a truly exceptional manner. 

Because the City Livery Club unites all the Companies and promotes fellowship it is ideally placed to judge and moderate nominations for the award.

Livery Companies are encouraged to nominate Liverymen who they believe are worthy of recognition by the City Livery Club and the deadline for nominations for 2018 is 16 March.

How does the award benefit the Livery?

The City Livery Club's Root and Branch Award has rapidly gained visibility among the Livery Companies as a means…

Social Media Engagement: The case for Livery Companies to embrace root and branch change in communication

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The topic of improved communications within and about the Livery has recently been one of much discussion among the Livery Companies, especially through the new Pan Livery initiative. The Lord Mayor raised the issue in his Address to the Masters and Clerks at Mansion House on 22nd November 2017.

This desire for better, or as the Lord Mayor put it in his address 'radical' communication, of the work of the Livery Companies is nothing new, but radical? Let's see...

Where My Lord Mayor was the live Periscope broadcast of the Address, or the Tweet stream, or the Facebook posting? Can I watch it on YouTube or follow up the discussion in a blog?

To be fair, radical is not a word that sits naturally or comfortably with many Livery Companies, however my handy thesaurus provides an alternative phrase more readily acceptable to and widely known among the Livery, to wit: root and branch!

Many past Lord Mayors have bemoaned the lack of inter-Livery communication and especially communic…

Get Chartered, or how to reach the Gold Standard of incorporated body with a Royal Charter

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This blog article is based on an interview I conducted with Keith Lawrey, winner of the City Livery Club's Root and Branch Award (2017). The Root and Branch Award recognises the Liveryman who has made an outstanding contribution to the wider aims of the Livery, and is usually presented by the Lord Mayor of London at the City Livery Club's annual civic luncheon in the City.

Keith achieved his award for decades of pro bono work for the Livery Companies specifically guiding them through the process of obtaining a first Royal Charter, supplemental Royal Charters or amendments to an existing Royal Charter.

A transcript and audio extracts of the interview will follow at a later date, for the time being this article explores the reasons why a Livery Company would want to petition the Crown for a Royal Charter and the process as it stands today. In time past Royal Charters were granted by the Monarch, and sometimes withdrawn, usually as a tax raising measure or means to grant monopolis…