There are now more than 100 Livery Companies in the City of London and new ones are still, gradually, being formed as new trades and professions emerge. They are all integral to the City of London.
If you would like to make an application to join the Freedom (please read information below first) please download the application form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
These City Livery Companies have two main objectives. The first is to maintain the so-called “mystery” which is a corruption of the French word “metier” or “trade.” For the Founders, our trade was originally the pouring of molten metal into moulds. In the modern era this is technically called “near net shape forming” which in addition to casting involves other techniques including 3-D printing of metals and alloys.
The second objective is charitable. The Founders have three principal charity funds which are broadly allocated to education and general charitable support. Under education we support schools, craft training and university students with a focus on science and engineering. Under the general category we support a large variety of activities from music to ecological projects normally linked with an interest of a member of the Company. Currently the Company donates about £250,000 each year to charitable causes which is not an insignificant amount.
The Company retains strong links with relevant industries and especially with university departments of materials science and engineering. Many of our members come from these backgrounds. The Company also has links with the Arts and art foundries casting public and private works of art.
The Company is run by its Court and its Master and various Committees, backed by ancient charters and governing documents.
The Court comprises senior members of the Company, of whom the most senior are the Master (the titular head of the Company on an annual basis) and the two Wardens (Upper and Under) who are in line to become Master in the years ahead. The Committees report to the Court and have various terms of reference to recommend operational and strategic decisions for the Company, including charitable allocations, which are then brought to the Court for ratification. It is possible to be on a Committee but not yet to have joined the Court. The Clerk is the engine driver of the Company and Court and Committees.
There are three ways to become a member of the Founders: the most common route is ‘by redemption’ where you are introduced by a member; by apprenticeship whereby an individual is mentored through the joining process by a member who acts as a mentor or guide (the more usual route for younger individuals); and by patrimony (i.e. being a child of an existing member).
You will probably have become acquainted with the Founders via a friend or colleague who is a member. Since we are a fellowship of people from many walks of life, we like you to come to a few Founders events before applying so some members will have got to know you first.
Hopefully as you decide to apply you will also have become familiar with the dual responsibility of being a member. First, to take part in fellowship activities and secondly to be supportive of the charitable side of the Company. Some companies make it a condition of joining to commit a regular amount to their charities.
Currently at the Founders we do not make it a condition, but we will always encourage you to consider, before too long, initiating a regular donation to the Company’s charitable funds.
There are various stages of becoming a member. Initially you will become a Freeman of the Company after a short informal interview and confirmation by the Court, and you will have to attend a Court meeting to be “Sworn-In” as a Freeman. You will be presented by the Clerk of the Company who will read the commitment in quaint English and your only response will be “I so swear.” You will then be introduced to the Master and the Court.
Being a Freeman allows you to take part in most activities but not the full range on offer. It derives from the custom where Freemen of old could offer their trade services to anyone but could not take on apprentices or employ others.
The next stage is become a Freeman of the City of London. Our Clerk will advise you on the procedure for this separate and special ceremony held at the Guildhall when you can take friends and family.
Once you are both a Freeman of the Company and of the City of London, the next stage, after a period is that, hopefully, you will wish to become a full Liveryman of the Company by being “cloathed in the Livery.” Again, there is a short interview, and confirmation by the Court, and attendance at a Court meeting to be “cloathed” formally in the Livery gown.
The boring part is that, for each stage, the Company levies a ‘Fine’ (essentially a joining fee) and, on joining the Livery, ‘Quarterage’ (essentially an annual subscription, but levied quarterly, hence ‘Quarterage’).
The fine to become a freeman of the Company is £500.
The fee to become a Freeman of the City of London is £100.
The Fine to become a Liveryman is £1,250.
Quarterly fees payable by each Liveryman are £100, so £400 annually.
Quarterage is not payable by Freemen of the Company.
In due course, you may be considered for the Court.
The first step of joining Court is to become a Steward (and pay another fine!)
So, the sequence goes:
Freeman – Liveryman – Steward – Assistant (member of Court) – Warden and finally Master
Becoming a Liveryman is intended to be for life and joining the Company is not like joining a sports or social club. It is a commitment. Of course, life circumstances dictate change throughout our respective journeys, and withdrawal from the Livery is not unknown, one always retains the Freedom, but we hope that commitment to the Livery remains a constant for all our members as we move through life.
There are currently about 100 Freemen and about 160 Liverymen in our Company. We have a family spirit at all our gatherings and all our new Freemen and Liverymen are made to feel welcome to our special band.
Like life in general for the Founders: you reap what you sow. The more you put in to being a member of the Company, whether it be serving on a committee or visiting schools or mentoring students, the more you get out of being a member of the Company.
Your professional experience, whether in our hot metal trades or any other guise, will always be useful to the Company to support other committees such as Finance and Property.
Apart from our own Hall in Cloth Fair (our 5th hall in our history since 1365), the Company owns a modest property portfolio of offices and residential flats and our charitable funds now also own and manage a training centre and the Brunel Centre in Bedford.
Being part of an ancient, active and diverse fellowship has its own rewards given the informal way we conduct ourselves. In addition to the various dinners during the year, there are sports teams (including rowing in the Founder’s boat on the Thames – the Belle Founder – for the more energetic), Historical Group, industrial and other visits such as to an art foundry, a university department or further afield such as to CERN in Geneva.
Each year there is a Spring Tour chosen and led by the Master (normally in the UK one year and in mainland Europe the next). These are 3-4 days when Founders and their partners can really get to know each other. There is also a biennial wine tour for which there is great competition to join.
Other events taking place in the hall include industry briefings, small scale concerts and theatre. Most of these events are open to both Freemen and Liverymen but the Spring Tour and some of the dinners are for the Livery only.
However, if you are asking the question “what can I get out of being a member?” you may need to think again about joining. We are not a slick members’ organisation such as a London Club but we seek to do our best by members giving freely of their talents and time to the benefit of all.
We hope you will decide to join us!
If you want further information do not hesitate to contact the Clerk or any member you might know.
You can contact the Clerk by emailing