We are a relatively young Guild, just over 100 years old. Many of our early records and treasures were lost during the blitz in the Second World War.

However the history was researched by Past Master Colin Dyer from numerous sources on the occasion of our 75th Anniversary. This is published in our History of the Guild, and was updated by Past Master Raymond Holl in a secnd volume in 2008 to celebrate our centenary.  The two volumes can be purchased here.

Here you will find a summary of notable people and events from our founding in 1908 to the present day.
 

The Early Years

16 November 1907

First suggestion of the foundation of the Guild published in the City Press.

29 July 1908

A group of Freemen met in the City Arms (a tavern at 2 St Mary Axe) and passed a resolution to form an association to be called the Guild of Freemen of the City of London

13 November 1908

The first Guild event took place and the first Master was elected

28 January 1909

The first Guild dinner took place

7 April 1910

The Guild was granted a licence by the Board of Trade to dispense with the word 'Limited' after its Company name

23 April 1910

The Guild was registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee. (Members would not be shareholders but would undertake, in the event of the Company being wound up, to make a contribution of up to £1 towards any outstanding debts). The Articles of Association set out the internal management of the Guild and, by name as well as office, the new officers who would head it

1 August 1910

The Earl Marshal's warrant granting armorial bearings to the Guild was signed and sealed

1911

The Guild of Freemen's lodge was warranted. Membership was restricted to members of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London

March 1912

The first edition of the Guild of Freemen magazine was published

13 November 1912

The establishment of a Guild club was proposed. Arrangements were put in place for members to have luncheon at Keyzer's Royal Hotel, near Blackfriars. The Court could not agree about setting up a club. Rather than abandon the idea, some members kept it alive and, some two years later, formed the City Livery Club

December 1913

The Guild started a search for premises

1914

Guild Member Sergeant Major George Dorell, "L" Battery RHA, was awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding gallantry at Nery on 1st September 1914, during the BEF retreat from Mons

14 December 1914

The structure of the Court was agreed as 22 Life Members and 11 Members to be elected triennially (i.e. 1918, 1921, 1924 etc)

18 January 1915

The Guild formed a contingent for the City National Guard - to protect against an invasion of the enemy

November 1915

The Guild established an office and club room at Keyzer's Royal Hotel

May 1916

The Guild's office and club room were requisitioned by the War Office. The Guild moved to the Cannon Street Hotel

1 January 1917

The Benevolent Fund was established; three trustees were appointed

October 1918

On behalf of the Guild, the Court sent a message of congratulation and thanks for their 'glorious victories' to Sir Douglas Haig, Marshal Foch Arthur J Balfour MP and the Ambassadors of our Allies

March 1919

The Guild's office was moved to the Cripplegate Institute

1919

The Guild's members raised funds to buy The Victory Cup - the Guild's first Loving Cup. This led to the introduction of the Joining Ceremony for all new members, and the inclusion of the Loving Cup Ceremony as part of the Joining Ceremony

March 1920

The publication of the Guild's magazine was resumed under the title of The Freeman

1920

The Guild's membership passed 1,000

1920 (approx)

The Guild set up the Christ's Hospital Presentation Fund to support the presentation of pupils by the Guild at Christ's Hospital

11 July 1921

The Guild's office was moved to Bakers' Hall. This remained the home of the Guild until Bakers' Hall was destroyed by enemy action in December 1940. Salters' Hall was used for Court meetings when Bakers' Hall was unavailable

1921

The Master, Francis Sully, laid the foundation of a collection of silver plate for the Guild

1921

The Guild first took part in the Lord Mayor's Procession

1923

The Court decided that gowns and Tudor hats should be provided for the Master, Wardens, Clerk and Beadle

November 1923

The Court decided to defer a decision on the admission of women to formal membership of the Guild

October 1927

Guild Member Louis Campbell Johnston formed a company limited by guarantee called the British Humane Association which operated a clinic in Pimlico. He also donated a significant sum to the BHA in the name of the Guild, thereby making them founders and giving the Guild the right to appoint 3 directors (trustees) of the BHA. The BHA remains active though it has changed significantly over the years. The Court still appoints three trustees

1929

The Guild celebrated its 21st birthday. At the Guildhall banquet the call to order before the toasts was by a roll of drums by the cadets of St Dunstan's College OTC and by the King of Siam's Own Scouts

From the Depression to the Golden Jubilee

1930

The Master, Cyril Gernand Harry Wittich, presented the Guild with its banner

1931

The Guild formed an association with HMS London (the eighth warship to bear that name) and presented a silver salver and a silver bowl

1933

The Guild's membership passed 1,500

1935

The Guild presented a Loyal Address to His Majesty King George V on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee

29 December 1940

Bakers' Hall was destroyed by enemy action. Most of the Guild's property was destroyed, including its valuable library, some early records of the Guild and some other treasures. The offices of the Guild's accountants were also destroyed, together with the Guild's ledgers. Most of the Guild's silver and plate was in the Bakers' Hall strong room and it survived. It was then moved to the country for safe keeping

January 1941

The Guild moved its office to Cordwainers' Hall in Cannon Street

May 1941

Cordwainers' Hall was destroyed by enemy action and the Guild moved its office to Butchers' Hall

May 1942

The Guild moved office again, this time to Tallow Chandlers' Hall, where the Guild happily remains to this day

1943

Due to the influence of the Guild's Chaplain, The Guild's annual service was held in the crypt of St Paul's cathedral for the first time. Until then the annual service had been held every year since 1909 in St Andrew Undershaft in Leadenhall Street in the Ward of Aldgate (as this was the Ward of Aldgate's church and the Guild had been founded in that Ward).

October 1945

The Guild's silver and plate was brought back from the country and stored in the strong room at Tallow Chandlers' Hall

7 March 1946

The Guild assisted with the formation of the Freemen's Guild in the City of Coventry, and the Guild presented a Loving Cup to mark the very close association has been maintained since then.

19 June 1946

The Guild presented a Loving Cup to the Freemen's Guild of the City of Coventry to mark their inauguration

27 November 1946

The first annual banquet after the war was held in Guildhall. (Annual banquets had been suspended for the duration of the war)

19 December 1949

In memory of Past Master Francis Sully, who had not only been an active member of the Court since 1915 but also had been editor of The Freeman for 25 years, the sum of £5,000 was transferred from the General Fund to set up a new charity in the Guild - the Francis Sully Educational and Charity Fund

February 1954

The first of the Guild's annual dinners at the House of Commons took place

1955

The Master, Henry John Edwin Stinson, composed the Freemen's Prayer for his Guildhall banquet and subsequent use

March 1958

The post of Deputy Master was abolished to bring the Guild in line with the City custom that only a Past Master could deputise for the Master. In place of the Deputy Master a new warden's post was created - the Under Warden

1960

The Guild celebrated the golden jubilee of its incorporation as a Company on 23 April 1910

More Modern Times

1961

The Guild's membership passed 2,000

1966

The Guild's membership passed 2,500

1968

The Tallow Chandlers' Company invited all Livery Companies and Guilds that used the hall as their headquarters to contribute to the cost of making a stained glass window to commemorate their association with the Company. The Guild was delighted to contribute, and its Armorial Bearings have been incorporated in the oriel window in the Great Hall

1969

The Guild set up a Sail Training Association award for the City of London Freemen's School. This award is made annually to this day

11 May 1970

The first women were admitted to membership of the Guild

1973

In compliance with European regulations and to continue to avoid having to use Limited after the Guild's name, the Guild started to use 'a company limited by guarantee' in very small print after its name

1974

Past Master Ronald Ward left a bequest to the Guild. This was used to set up a charity in his name, subsidiary to the Benevolent Fund

1976

A committee of 5 Court members, City Corporation representatives and a group of young freemen met several times to see if arrangements could be made within the Guild to meet the requirements of young freemen in their twenties and thirties. Eventually it was decided to form a separate organisation, the Society of Young Freemen

1979

The Guild's Golfing Society was formed

January 1982

Publication of the Guild's history - compiled and written by Past Master Colin Dyer

1982

The 'City of London', a Tyne class lifeboat, was launched as a result of an appeal set up by the Lord Mayor in 1981. It was assigned to the RNLI Station at Selsey

1983

Celebration of the Guild's 75th Anniversary

April 1983

Publication of the updated edition of the Guild's history

29 July 1983

HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, attended the Guild's 75th Anniversary reception at Guildhall

To the 21st Century

July 1985

The Guild sponsors 10 members of the RNLI Station at Selsey to the Freedom of the City of London

1987

David Reid handed over as Clerk after 35 years in post

1989

Following an initiative by Donald du Parc Braham during his time as Master in 1988, the Guild established an affiliation with 253 Provost Company Royal Military Police (Volunteers).

23 July 1991

Guild Member Frank Wells, with his wife Connie, started a new charity under the Guild's purview: the Francon Trust

1993

The Master, Sir Clifford Chetwood, commissioned a special fanfare entitled 'The Guild of Freemen of the City of London' and presented it to the Guild

July 1994

The Guild participated in the Livery Companies' Exhibition at Guildhall

October 1994

The Guild sponsored 10 members of the RNLI Station at Selsey to the Freedom of the City of London

24 February 1996

The Master, Alderman Clive Martin, presented two silver goblets to the City of Coventry's Freemen's Guild to commemorate their golden jubilee

1997

A reciprocal agreement to share selected membership privileges was reached with The Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America

1999

The Guild joined the Lord Mayor and others in bidding farewell to HMS London when she was decommissioned

May 1999

The Guild sponsored 9 members of the RNLI Station at Selsey and their long-standing supporters to the Freedom of the City of London

June 2000

To celebrate ancient traditions in the Millennium year, many Guild members joined others from the City to herd sheep across London Bridge

1 August 2001

Colonel Derek Ivy handed over as Clerk after 14 years in post

12 April 2003

On behalf of the Guild, The Master, Raymond Holl, presented the Gild of Freemen of the City of York with a silver Loving Cup to commemorate its Golden Jubilee

October 2004 to July 2005

The Guild sponsored 27 members of 253 Provost Company RMP to the Freedom of the City of London

14 February 2006

The Guild sponsored 7 members of the RNLI Station at Selsey to the Freedom of the City of London

19 March 2008

HRH The Princess Royal was installed as the Centenary Master

April 2008

The City of Coventry Freemen's Guild and the Gild of Freemen of the City of York presented gifts to commemorate the Guild's Centenary

29 July 2008

The Guild celebrated its Centenary with a dinner at Gibson Hall, 13 Bishopsgate, in the presence of the Centenary Master

September 2010

Volume II of the Guild's history, written by Past Master Raymond Holl was published. It covers the period 1983 - 2008

16 March 2011

Revised Articles of Association were approved by the Guild's Members at the Annual General Meeting

10 May 2011

HM King Michael I of Romania hosted a Banquet in Bucharest for the Guild at which he was presented with a warrant appointing him an Honorary Royal Member of the Guild

March 2017

Brigadier Michael Keun retires as clerk

2 May 2017

Christine Cook is appointed Clerk

2 May 2017

The Guild office returns to the City of London with a move to 65 London Wall

Our Members

""Reception and Supper at Grocers' Hall
"My guests and I really really enjoyed the Ceremony and the dinner at Grocers’ Hall last evening, I am still on a high with sheer pleasure, you, everyone there so kind and welcoming". Mrs A R

"It was good to meet you at last and on such an excellent evening in one of the nicest Livery Halls in the City.  Thank you for making it such a special evening for M and me.   It was so well organised and enjoyable.   The food was first class and the company good as well". Mr D B

RNLI Demonstration and Supper at the Little Ship Club

"Thank you SO much for arranging a most enjoyable evening. Once again, I was able to catch up on friends and make new acquantainces - all thanks to you for the excellent place settings.  The weather was kind to us, the food was amazing and everybody around our table was very happy with the service and the meal."  Ms V H

"Following the interesting demonstration Guild Members and their guests retired back inside the Little Ship Club for a stunning two-course supper with some excellent wine and tremendous companionship discussing the RNLI’s great work being achieved on the tidal Thames.​" Mr D K
 
 

 

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