This website is dedicated to exploring the City of London and its connection with the many Livery Companies (trade, craft or professional guilds) that continue to thrive and play a vital role in the governance of the City in modern times.
The City of London is a special place with many ancient customs, officers and ceremonies that are not found in other cities in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. The City has a unique relationship with both the Crown and Parliament, and can rightly claim to have the oldest extant and continuous democratic government in the world. The City is also the world’s leading centre for financial services and has been a major centre for trade since Roman times.
Supporting this website is The City of London Freeman’s Guide, the definitive concise guidebook to the City of London’s ancient system of government, its customs, rituals, officers and Livery Companies as they are to be found today. The guide is recommended reading for all Freemen of the City of London, whether they be members of a Livery Company or not.
A wealth of resources are available elsewhere on the Internet to enable broader and deeper discovery of the City, many of them are referenced from within this site along with a recommended reading list for those who prefer printed material.
A great place to start your journey of discovery about the City of London is to watch The Secret City of London parts 1 & 2 (see below).
Note: The marvellously complex diagram employed in this video to explain the requirements for election to the office and dignity of The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor of London is in reality a simplification of the process. A more comprehensive explanation may be found in the attached diagram.
Stephen Fry's ‘The Keys to the City’ provides a insight in to some aspects of the City’s governance, rituals, customs and relationship to the Livery Companies. The following extract shows some of the ritual associated with a formal dinner at one of the City’s Livery Companies. As Steven Fry learns in this short clip, there is a great deal of etiquette involved in Livery Company dinners, and that even extends to how to pass the port.
Continue your exploration of the City
If you’d like to know more about the Freedom of the City of London, and the City of London Livery Companies then you may wish to purchase The City of London Freeman’s Guide. Testimonials for guide are on this page, and summarise the guide very well.
For those considering joining a Livery Company, becoming a Freeman of the City of London or simply interested in the role of The City of London Corporation and the work of the 110 Livery Companies the Livery Committee run a series of popular City Briefings at Guildhall priced at a popular £20 (2016). Another excellent resource is the website Livery Committee website.