Friday 1 April 2022 – United Guilds Service
This year, on a very cold but sunny morning, saw the 78th Service of the United Guilds of the City of London at St Pauls Cathedral. Having had no service for the previous two years due to Coronavirus, it was a wonderful sight to see all the colourful robes of the Livery lining the aisle and leading to the mixture of Clergy, Sheriffs and Court of Aldermen and others those present. I attended with our Junior Warden, James Cripps, our Clerk and several members of our Company.
This Service was founded back in 1943 when it was decided to hold a service in St Pauls for the Livery Companies and the Guilds of the City of London. The idea was to lift the spirits of the City following the Blitz during the Second World War, similarities of which were reflected upon during the Sermon by The Right Reverend Humphrey Southern, Principle of Ripon College, Oxford as he spoke about Ukraine and the events that had unfolded there, still being discovered. Since the first service, this event has become annual and remains one of the few occasions at which the whole Livery and Guilds of the City can gather together as a whole.
Having arrived in good time to robe and mingle with those present, the moment of the Lord Mayors arrival was anticipated by the very cold draft suddenly around our shoulders as the main doors to the Cathedral were opened behind us. The fanfare sounded and then the Procession of this years twelve livery Company Masters were followed by The City Marshall, Chief Commissioner, High Officers, The Sheriffs, The Ward Beadles and the Court of Aldermen accompanied by the Ward Beadles. There followed the higher clergy , Bishop of London, The Sergeant-at-Arms, Sword bearer and The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor.
After a roof raising first hymn, the service followed with the Bidding given by The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean. The Choir filled the air through Psalms and Anthems before the First Lesson read by The Reverend Andrew Richardson, Assistant Chaplain and the Second Lesson read by Alderman Vincent Keaveny, The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor. There followed the Sermon before prayers, another rousing hymn and closing with the Blessing and National Anthem.
It took some time for the Procession to emerge from the far end of the Cathedral back to the main doors at the end due to the length, but it gave a moment to take in the events and our surroundings, the sun making bright and darker patches through the windows as the clouds rolled past. Each sunny moment dazzling through the stained glass. Likewise a similar effect from all the different robes descending the steps after the Service before wending their various ways to lunch.
This year we were pleased to join the Worshipful Company of Pewterers. A most enlightening lunch learning of the difference between pewter, containing its small amount of lead and tin being another alloy layered with copper. Another member of the Pewterers at the Top Table transpired to be an expert on medieval food, proudly declaring that he had yet to find nothing and emphasised nothing that he would not eat! Over a delicious lunch we learned more about the history of the Pewterers while myself, Master Pewterer, Master Wheelwright and Master Tin Plate Worker enjoyed fascinating discussion about our own trades and current achievements.
After a most convivial lunch, and upon conclusion of toasts and speeches, it was time to leave. Until next year...