London Livery Halls
London is the only city in the world which has the wide range of historical trade and craft bodies located there that collectively are referred to as the London Livery. Ancient professions such as Coopers, Founders, Wax Chandlers and Farmers and Fletchers are all represented in the numerous bodies that established themselves in the Capital to support and foster growth for their trades in the City of London.
Virtually all the companies that form the London Livery originally had their base in a Livery Hall and whilst many of these have been lost to various London catastrophes, over forty Livery Halls still remain in the ‘square mile’. These often grand buildings are ideally located to be attractive sites for corporate events, meetings or conferences as well as marketing launches and even Christmas parties due to their size and high quality onsite catering and food services. Many are also licensed as wedding venues and frequently host private events as well as commercial hospitality.
Today, of course, the London Livery are virtually an institution in their own right as they form a part of the historic traditions that make London such an iconic city across the world. However, the diversity of organisations that form the London Livery includes some trade bodies that continue to have a legitimate role whilst others have diversified into the tourist and hospitality trade that allows them to maintain their Livery Halls in some of the most prestigious locations in the City. Others have established a charitable role and work with their members and other associated organisations to raise funds for a wide range of causes.
Most organisations in the London Livery carry the prefix of the "Worshipful Company of" and longstanding members are referred to as Liverymen. New companies are continually being admitted to the London Livery with the most recent Royal Charter being granted to The Company of Security Professionals in 2008.
Whilst all members joining the London Livery after 1926 are referred to as ‘modern’ livery companies, a more typical example is The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers who obtained their Royal Charter in 1528 to promote the welfare of cloth and material workers in the City of London. Today they support the industry across the country, but have also presented charitable grants to a raft of projects cumulatively totaling over £80 million.
All the companies in the London Livery have a variation of the ancient organisational structure which was established hundreds of years ago as their earliest Royal Charters were granted. This consists of a governing Master, Wardens responsible to the Master and a Court that elects the Master and Wardens. Members are known as freemen initially but after a number of years they may be elected to become Liverymen. An indication of the historically important role that London Livery companies played is that originally only liverymen were allowed to have a vote in the election of The Lord Mayor of the City of London.