Whilst trawling the Square Mile for City in Bloom I had the pleasure of visiting this Livery Company in Gutter Lane, off Cheapside (West Cheape), almost on the site of the original hall established around 1395, although there is evidence that it is likely to be one of the oldest livery companies in the City. Peruse link, as I cannot do justice to its fabulous history here : http://www.saddlersco.co.uk/thesaddlerscompany/development.html
This company up until 1351 was in the top twelve livery companies in the City and it was only in the C16th when the economic power moved from craft to the merchant companies and the company descended to 25th place. As time moved on we know that the horse was superceded by the arrival of all things mechanical and industrial, although I believe the last horse-drawn Hansom Cab was still working in London well into the 1950s. The Saddlers' Company, however, remains as one of the few who are still very much involved and affiliated with their original craft.
I was made most welcome by the Beadle, Keith Marsh, who I was pleased to discover follows me on Twitter! Having signed off the nomination for City in Bloom, Keith kindly showed me around the Hall and some of its treasures.
The history link will give you more information but here are some points of interest:
- Noted as one of the earliest established companies (evidence held at Westminster)
- First Charter from Edward III in 1363
- Incorporation Charter of Richard II in 1395
- 600th Anniversary of the original Incorporation Charter, Queen Elizabeth II granted her Charter to the Saddlers' Company
- Honorary Freedom and present Yeoman is HRH the Princess Royal (the Saddlers' Company has the unique privilege of granting Yeoman status)
- The current Master, Mrs Petronella Jameson, also the first female court member of the company.
- Hall destroyed by Great Fire 1666
- Burned down in 1821
- Destroyed in air attack in 1940
- Compulsory purchase by City of London Corporation of medieval freehold, present Hall still on part of original site.
- Wonderful treasures : http://www.saddlersco.co.uk/thesaddlerscompany/company_treasures.html#i
Plus a great titbit for guides: Where does the saying 'Throw down the gauntlet' originate?
"The King's Champion Saddle
The Kings Champion Saddle is held on loan in Saddlers' Hall due to the generosity of the present Queen's Champion, Lt Col J L M Dymoke OBE DL, Lord of the Manor of Scrivelsby. The saddle, of leather covered with red silk velvet and ornamented with silver-gilt lace, braid and fringe, was probably used at the Coronation of George the Third in 1760. Together with the bridle and gauntlet, it was restored in Saddlers Hall some 200 years later by John Waterer, a Liveryman of the Company.
The Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire carries with it the hereditary title of the Grand Champion of England. The Dymoke family has held the title since 1292. The Champion's duty was performed only at the Coronation of each Monarch, with the last such ceremony taking place at the Coronation of King George IV in 1821. Clad in full armour, carrying a gauntlet and attended by trumpeters, Serjeants-at-Arms, a Herald and the Lord High Constable, the Kings' Champion rode into Westminster Hall and delivered a challenge against anybody who might gainsay the Sovereign. After the third challenge, their being no response, the Monarch would toast the health of the Champion, in the knowledge that he was undisputed as Sovereign." (Extract from WC of Saddlers' website)
For those who like the wonderful ceremonial elements of the City why not attend at the Saddlers' Hall on 1st July when it is Election Day. Having elected a Master, Wardens and Junior Assistants, to be installed later in July, the Court and Livery process from Saddlers Hall to St. Vedast’s, Foster Lane (the Company’s Parish Church) for a service. The procession leaves the Hall at approximately 11.45am via the South arcade in Gutter Lane. This year they are hoping the procession will be led by two City of London Police horses. There is also a proposal that one of the horses will be the newly named 'Jameson', after the current and first lady Master of the Saddlers Company, Mrs Petronella Jameson. See you there!
|Saddlers' Hall, 40 Gutter Lane|
Picture courtsey of WC of Saddlers'