Livery Companies’ Historical Background
Over half the Companies started life as guilds in medieval times when they played a vital role in the business and political life of London. The Livery Companies controlled standards and had the right to inspect and condemn inferior workmanship, thus protecting both their customers and their own craftsmen.
During the centuries many of the Companies’ original trades died out and they have in many cases embraced the modern equivalent. For example, the Fan Makers support the heating and ventilation trade and the Homers the plastics industry.
Since the 1950s the number of Companies has grown from 79 to 108 with many new Companies being formed to represent modern professions. Examples of these are the Chartered Accountants and Chartered Architects Companies. The latest companies, the International Bankers and the Tax Advisors, were given the grant of Livery in January 2005, demonstrating the way City life adapts to meet new circumstances and challenges. Liverymen should know how the Companies have adapted from their old craft traditions to modern day practices and may well be surprised how involved the Livery Companies are in today’s world.