2022 Blog October1 1

 It is one of the Master’s greatest privileges to be invited attend the Chamberlain’s Court to witness the Freedom of London ceremony for members of the Company. It is a solemn but uplifting occasion, and is required for any Freeman to achieve promotion to Liveryman of the Company.

Earlier this month I accompanied Freeman Wayne Sheppard and his wife Carole to one such ceremony. Wayne read the oath with panache, coping well with the archaic language, and we enjoyed a fascinating tour of the Chamberlain’s Court. Afterwards we had lunch with friends and family at Sweetings, the traditional fish restaurant. We were very well served, and it was a delightful day. It felt very special to be able to enjoy this occasion together.

In days gone by, the Freedom allowed the holder free passage in and out of the City, manifest by the ability to drive sheep over London Bridge. This custom is maintained today by the Woolmens’ Company, who arrange the sheep drive once a year in October. As a special dispensation, if necessary, a Freeman would be hanged with a silk rather than hemp rope. Equally important, Freedom also allowed the bearer of the vellum certificate to be escorted home by the police if found intoxicated in the City, rather than being thrown into jail. It may not be so effective today, but Freedom of The City of London is still a great honour.