The relics of the medieval craft guilds of the City of London - one of the oldest being the Merchant Taylors' Company. They are companies formed by Royal Charter - those that cannot produce their charters are assumed to have received them at one time or other. Today there are eighty-three, and the senior companies. referred to as the Great Twelve, are the Mercers', Grocers', Drapers', Fishmongers', Goldsmiths',Skinners', Merchant Taylors', Haberdashers', Salters', Ironmongers'. Vintners' and Clothworkers'. Some of the guilds have formed their own schools, not necessarily for educating children into their own crafts, though that might have been the original intention. The Mercers' Company was prominent in this field. It formed the Mercers' School in 1542 and was also responsible for supporting St Paul's School. The guilds united to form thc City and Guilds of London Institute in 1878, to help with technical education. In 1907 they helped form thc Imperial College of j Science and Technology.
The Livery companics have elaborate dress for ceremonial occasions, and also some fine banqueting social organizations, but some still play an active part in their trade; for instance, the fishmongers' Company still looks after Billingsgate and is responsible for seizing any bad fish.
|Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary , 3rd edt.|