Having joined the Guild of Mercer’s Scholars last year I was invited to attend a ceremony at the Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall to be given the Freedom of the City of London. The whole thing was frankly ridiculous, but enormous fun, complete with men in gowns (just back from a “jolly good lunch”) silly hats, much swearing to (note not at) the Queen, and a swanky new certificate to show that I can not invest my time productively by driving sheep about and wearing a sword in public etc.
My Freedom comes in a long line: It is believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237, and the medieval term ‘freeman’ meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. So now all I need to do is earn money and own land… a good start.
I had to swear all manner of things including that, “I do solemnly swear that I will be good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second; that I will be obedient to the Mayor of this City; that I will maintain the Franchises and Customs thereof, and will keep this City harmless, in that which in me is; that I will also keep the Queen’s Peace in my own person; that I will know no Gatherings nor Conspiracies made against the Queen’s Peace, but I will warn the Mayor thereof, or hinder it to my power; and that all these points and articles I will well and truly keep, according to the Laws and Customs of this City, to my power.”
Last month I was ‘bound’ to my new apprentice. Jack is presumably waiting for his A-Level results at Peter Symonds College in Winchester, and we had a good chat about university entrance and what he wants to do next. He wants to read law at Exeter, about which I know very little, but it seems like a good idea to have a ‘master’ (i.e. me!) to ask all sorts of questions of and to tap up for dinner occasionally. I guess its a sort of medieval peer support network! With silly hats and certificates…