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Friday, 11 March 2016

United Guilds Service and the Clothworkers' Company

The 74th Service of the United Guilds of the City of London saw representatives of the Livery Companies pack St Paul's Cathedral today.

The first United Guilds Service was held on Lady Day, 25 March 1943, the first day of the year by the old calendar. One reason given for its institution was to remember the religious origins of the Guilds but essentially it arose out of the desire of the Companies to unite and help to solve the problems facing the blitz-damaged City.

At the meeting of the Masters and Clerks of the Twelve Great Companies 1st February 1943 it was resolved to hold the service and to send a petition to the King that he attend. The Masters and Prime Wardens were to attend in their robes with such of their livery as ‘may be able’.

In the event the King did not attend, but the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen did so. Dr. Fisher, the Bishop of London, gave the address. The Lord Mayor gave an austerity luncheon after the service to the Masters and Prime Wardens.

In his speech the Lord Mayor hoped that the service would be held annually for it gave an opportunity for the Livery to ‘approach God with one voice of united prayer’. The Master of the Mercers, Lt. Col. E. Clementi Smith, replied and emphasised the problems facing the Companies at that date and how they could be relied upon to do everything possible to rebuild the City.

The United Guilds Service now takes place each year, filling St Paul’s Cathedral to capacity. Members of all companies join with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, with great ceremony and beautiful music, and an address by a leading churchman which this year was the Bishop of London.

Following the service I was invited to lunch with the Clothworkers' Company. Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the original purpose of The Clothworkers’ Company was to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing within the City of London.

Although few of their present members are involved in the textile industry in any direct way, they continue to support textiles, principally through educational grants, fostering the development of technical textiles and colour science, and support for the nation's textile heritage.

The assets of the Company, which are based on property and investments, are used to support The Clothworkers' Foundation, which is a registered charity and one of the largest grant-makers in Britain.

One of the Company’s newest collections is of bookbindings. Design bookbindings represent the highest level of workmanship and technical expertise combined with the best of modern innovative design.

The Company has recently begun commissioning such bindings in order to lend vital support to the endangered craft of bookbinding. These include bindings by Bernard Middleton M.B.E. and Jeff Clements M.B.E. amongst other notable craftsmen and women in their nascent collection.


Maurice Durufle - Ubi Caritas Et Amor.

1 comment:

Revd Sally Muggeridge said...

The United Guilds Service is a great annual occasion, one I very much recall when I was Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketors in 2013. All this year was much enhanced by a larger than ever gathering and a sterling sermon delivered by the Bishop of London. He spoke of the kindness, generosity, graciousness and goodness we need to show to all our fellow human beings, that it should also be and needs to be our rule in living and enjoying a good life. With a gathered congregation of some several hundred Liverymen and their Masters, all were robed in the finery of ermine and priceless badges of office as assumed by Companies and Guilds. I remember myself looking as such during mŷ year in office. Clergy on parade looked similarly penguin like in black cassocks and white surplices. The Lord Mayor read a lesson having left his sword appropriately in the care of his bearer. With the numbers of Livery Halls in the City and Companies offering to host clergy and livery alike, we were dispersed to various locations across the City. I was delighted to be hosted by the Ironmongers, no 10 in the order of precedence and their Master, George Bastin, at their several times destroyed and rebuilt hall, located close to the Museum of London. The extent of the generosity of the City Livery Companies can never be over estimated. Long may they remain and grow, root and branch, for ever! Revd Sally Muggeridge