The Claremont Arts Society lecture
3rd February 2021
Behind the London Livery Companies Lecture February 3 2021
Aldersgate Ward Club members were fortunate to be invited to hear a fascinating lecture, delivered via Zoom, on Wednesday February 3 and a large number took up the invitation. The lecture, entitled Behind the London Livery Companies was given by Jo Mabbutt as part of series of talks organised by the Claremont Arts Society. Jo is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and Freeman of the City of London. Her knowledgeable and enthusiastic delivery was accompanied by well chosen illustrations and photographs which allowed the audience to examine closely a few examples of the many architectural treasures and valuable artefacts belonging to London’s Livery companies. Close viewing of such illustrations and photos is a definite benefit of watching lectures on ones’s own laptop or Ipad in this brave new world of Zoom we are now negotiating.
The skill and awe inspiring artistry of 16th, 17th and 18th century craftsmen was evident in, for example, finely embroidered Masters’ caps, the Carrington Salt of 1610 and the Croll Testimonial silver gilt fountain of 1871. The accumulated wealth of some of the Livery Companies and their key roles in regulating and controlling trades, retail and manufacturing from Medieval times onwards was also highlighted. The Livery Companies were crucial to the development of the City of London. Fascinating observations were made by Jo of the way in which the 43 Livery Companies which survived after the Great Fire of London have evolved and grown. For example, occupations such as the fan makers and the wax chandlers are rarely needed nowadays but these particular Worshipful Companies have, respectively, become linked to the air conditioning industry and to bee keepers, showing a willingness to adapt and retain their relevance. Newer Livery companies have also been established in recent years.
The ongoing contribution of Livery Companies to charitable giving in contemporary times was also stressed; millions of pounds are raised and donated annually for educational enterprises including long established support of schools and colleges, apprenticeship schemes, the military and many worthy causes. The fellowship, business and social activities organised regularly for members of the Livery companies to enjoy owe their origins to the early history of such companies but continue to thrive, when lockdown restrictions allow of course. Tradition plays a large part in many of the of the formal events and dinners and Jo described the Loving Cup ceremony and its historical origins, a very special tradition which I personally experienced at the Apothecaries Hall a few years ago and which many Livery Companies continue to maintain.
Many thanks to the Master, Rachelle Goldberg, for organising and enabling members to be part of the audience for such an interesting lecture. Thanks also to the Claremont Arts Society.