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The United Guilds Service

Liverymen and Freemen are welcome to attend the United Guilds Service starting at 11.15 am on a Friday in March.   We always have an allocation of tickets so please apply to the Clerk – tickets are free. The Master Pewterer has in the past kindly invited Clockmakers attending the Service to lunch with them afterwards at Pewterers’ Hall – details and cost will be confirmed by the Clerk when sending out notice of the Service.

The first United Guilds Service was held on Lady Day, 25 March 1943, the first day of the year by the old calendar. One reason given for its institution was to remember the religious origins of the Guilds but essentially it arose out of the desire of the Companies to unite and help to solve the problems facing the blitz-damaged City.

At the meeting of the Masters and Clerks of the Twelve Great Companies 1st February 1943 it was resolved to hold the service and to send a petition to the King that he attend. The Masters and Prime Wardens were to attend in their robes with such of their livery as ‘may be able’.

In the event the King did not attend, but the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen did so. Dr. Fisher, the Bishop of London, gave the address. The Lord Mayor gave an austerity luncheon after the service to the Masters and Prime Wardens.

In his speech the Lord Mayor hoped that the service would be held annually for it gave an opportunity for the Livery to ‘approach God with one voice of united prayer’. The Master of the Mercers, Lt. Col. E. Clementi Smith, replied and emphasised the problems facing the Companies at that date and how they could be relied upon to do everything possible to rebuild the City.

The United Guilds Service now takes place each year, filling St Paul’s Cathedral to capacity. Members of all companies join with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, with great ceremony and beautiful music, and an address by a leading churchman.

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A formal affiliation was signed in 2014 between the WCC and the AHS. WCC Liverymen and Freemen are encouraged to attend the excellent AHS Lectures, which are free to WCC members and include teas before and wine afterwards, so are very social and interesting events. List of forthcoming lectures in London is on the AHS site.

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