You may have heard of the Livery Companies. Perhaps someone has mentioned the “Great Twelve”, or the name of a Company such as the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, or possibly the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. You may wonder what lies behind these City institutions, and whether they still exist? Are they only open to the great and the good – are they only accessible by secret ceremony? Are women allowed through the portals of the grand livery halls? Do these bodies actually “do” anything?
So many questions, so let’s see if we can introduce you to the wonderful world of the thriving Liveries of London. A review of our “History” and “About” pages will give you an overview of the history of the Livery companies, so we will avoid repeating ourselves here.
All Companies are now open to anyone who meets the qualifying conditions, and there is no restriction as to race, creed or nationality. The majority of Companies are also keen to welcome women. Collectively, London’s Livery Companies give an impressive £40m plus a year to charity.
Historically, one would have joined a Livery Company as an apprentice under a master of the craft. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice would have presented an example of his craft to his master, who would present it to the Court (the governing body of the Livery, or Guild) as a demonstration of his apprentice’s capability in the craft. Such a piece became known as a “masterpiece”. Having completed his apprenticeship, he was made “free” of the Company and allowed to practice his craft. However, before he became a Liveryman of the Company, he needed to become “free” of the City of London, which allowed him to trade. In the Middle Ages, this was really a licence to print money, as London was then one of the leading trading centres of the known world – to carry out one’s business this often led to great wealth.
Today, if you ask to join a Livery Company it will first give you the Freedom of the Company, this can then easily be converted on application into a Freeman of the City of London through a ceremony just for you in Guildhall. Finally, you can then become a Liveryman of the Company, thus giving one the opportunity to join fully in the civic side of the Livery and become eligible to vote to elect the Lord Mayor of the City of London at a special ceremony.
No two Liveries are the same – some are limited in size to 100 Liverymen, whilst others may have 500 Liverymen or more. All have their own traditions and ceremonies and in some, the titles of the officers of the Company vary. All this contributes to the rich tapestry that makes up the Liveries of the City of London. Not all of the Companies have their own hall (there are only 39 halls) but some share, whilst other are peripatetic. The Fuellers are fortunate to have an office at Skinners Hall. All the halls welcome spouses and partners as guests to their various functions.
There are ceremonies – but they are no ‘secret ceremonies’. We are nothing like the Freemasons! Everyone joining The Fuellers follows the same path, joining as a Freeman in a short and simple event where you are introduced to your fellow members, then becoming a Freeman of the City of London, moving on to become a Liveryman of the Fuellers. In time, if you wish, you may be invited to become a member of the governing committee – the Court of Assistants. Above this, are the wardens and even Master of the Company, each step having a short traditional and interesting ceremony. At every stage you are welcome and even encouraged to invite friends and family to come to watch and enjoy the occasion with you. Being granted Freedom of the City of London is an especially unique and interesting ceremony, conducted just for you by a judge in Guildhall (there is only one candidate, you, in the ceremony). Up to 30 of your friends and family can come and observe, and take your photograph in front of the Freedom of the City certificate of, say, Admiral Nelson, Margaret Thatcher, or Prince Philip. You leave with your own Freedom of the City certificate – an impressive scroll in a long frame.
The Fuellers can trace their origins back to the Coal Meters Committee in the 14th Century. Following the loss of our Charter in 1667; the Company was only re-established in its current form in 1984, and is therefore referred to as a ‘Modern Company’. The Fuellers were proud to regain our Royal Charter on 16 March 2016 presented by our Honorary Liveryman, His Royal Highness Prince Edward at the Guildhall, London.
The Fuellers are a young and growing Livery Company and we welcome applications for membership from those working, or having a significant interest in, energy. Particular from those who are willing and prepared to participate in the Company’s many activities. With a varied social programme, a strong charitable trust, interesting industrial visits, “conversations”, lectures and a keen interest in education, the growing membership can enjoy the fraternity of like-minded colleagues in a modern world whilst still retaining strong links with the origins of the industries.
So, why become a Fueller?
Apart from the benefits and enjoyment of participating in events and visits to extraordinary venues and the satisfaction from supporting worthy causes there are other aspects of belonging to The Fuellers that are key to our membership. It is rare in modern life to find such a diverse selection of qualified people connected by a common theme in such a positive social organisation. Beneath the energy umbrella in an impartial environment, members can explore common interests in an ambience of fellowship and trust. The camaraderie and friendship engendered amongst like-minded professionals is of high value to our membership.
To become a member of The Fuellers you will normally need to demonstrate an interest in the energy industry through whichever facet including fuel extraction, upstream exploration and production, generation, distribution, supply, trading and marketing plus all of the related support services or more simply as a consumer or citizen with an interest in how energy fuels our lives, businesses and communities.. There is even a special membership category for under 35 members called Yeoman.
For further membership information, please contact:-
Clerk to The Worshipful Company of Fuellers
8, Dowgate Hill