Category Archives: 1500s

Order of Precedence

In 1515 it was decided to rank the livery companies in order of importance and their position depended on their wealth. Companies incorporated after this were numbered chronologically.

This order of precedence is manifest in events such as the Lord Mayor’s show, the annual procession to welcome in the new mayor.

Wax Chandlers

So, who are the Wax Chandlers?

Think candles and you’d largely be right. The Company’s powers date back to 1484, when King Richard the 3rd  issued them with a Royal Charter granting them control over the Wax trade in the City – the wax being beeswax.

They are number twenty in the order of precedence.

What business did the Chandlers regulate?

Candlemaking was certainly a trade regulated by the Company – but only those made from beeswax, candles made from tallow were overseen by the Tallow Chandlers company.

Funerals as well were with the company’s remit and its members included the City’s embalmers.

Members producing candles not made from pure new beeswax could be imprisoned, fined, made to endure a spell in the pillory or even expelled from the Company. The latter sanction meant that they would no longer be allowed to trade in the City.

The importance of purity is echoed in the Company’s coat of arms which features unicorns.

Beeswax was a valuable commodity and was even used as a barter currency.

Aside from candles they also made wax images, wax moulds and seals for documents as well as candles, tapers and torches.

Today the Company is no longer a regulatory body but does support the beekeeping and beeswax industries.

It’s also involved with initiatives with what is called CleanTech – the promotion of sustainable and non-polluting technologies.

They support education charities helping children from poor families, those with language or communication challenges and those with special needs.

Christ’s Hospital’s School

is one of the oldest boarding schools in England

In 1552, the young King Edward VI responded to an impassioned sermon on the needs of London’s poor, and summoned the preacher, the Bishop of London, to talk more about this pressing situation. It was suggested that Edward should write to the Lord Mayor of London, to set in motion charitable measures to help the poor.

Christ’s Hospital was consequently founded in the old buildings vacated by the Grey Friars in Newgate Street, London and provided food, clothing, lodging and learning for fatherless children and other poor men’s children. The children were not only cared for but prepared for future careers. Money for such reform was raised by the City of London. The Church, businesses and householders in London were asked for donations. Governors were elected to serve the school and in November 1552, Christ’s Hospital opened its doors to 380 pupils. Within a year, the number had increased to over 500.

Many children, including 100 of the first 380, were infants who were sent away to Ware, Hoddesdon (Herts) or Hertford to be looked after by nurses, who were paid a weekly allowance, and to attend local day schools. When they reached 10 they would return to London to be educated.

Girls were admitted from the beginning, and in 1563, when the first children’s register was compiled, there were 132 girls out of 396 children, although the proportion thereafter was usually smaller.

In London, the great majority of children were educated in the Writing School for a position in commerce or trade, leaving when aged 15. The few who stayed on beyond the age of 15 studied either in the Grammar School for University or, from its foundation in 1673, in the Royal Mathematical School (RMS) for service at sea. The RMS received its Royal Charter from Charles II, with Samuel Pepys & Sir Isaac Newton being influential figures in its early years.

CH lost 32 children in the Great Plague of 1665, but did not lose any children to the Great Fire in 1666, although most of the buildings were burned down. With only a few children able to return to the ruined buildings, many were sent out to be billeted in Hertfordshire. In 1682 a site in Hertford was acquired for a self-contained boarding school, which CH was to own for over 300 years.

Thanks to the great generosity of benefactors, the rebuilding of the school in London after the Great Fire was completed in 1705, with Sir Christopher Wren designing the South front as well as Christ Church, the parish church immediately outside the walls of CH, which the school used for its worship.  A second major rebuilding took place from 1793 to 1836, including a Grammar School completed in 1793, a new Great Hall in 1829, Grammar and Mathematical Schools in 1834 and the cloisters known as the Grecians Cloister in 1836. .

In 1902 all the boys from both the London and Hertford schools transferred to a new site in Horsham, and the school at Hertford became a girls-only school. In 1985 the Hertford site was closed and the girls transferred to Horsham, once again to form a co-educational school.

Today CH has 830 boarding pupils, with an equal number of boys and girls, and 70 day pupils.

Gresham College

This was effectively the first university in the City of London. Funded by a bequest from financier Thomas Gresham it was built in Bishopsgate in 1571. It stood near where Tower 42 aka the Natwest Building now stands.

It was a place, of course, of education but also of research. The Royal Society first met here in 1660 with Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke in attendance.

The college still operates today. It does not accept students nor issue degrees but offers around 140 free lectures each year.

Today it is located in the west of the City on Holborn at Barnard’s Inn Hall.