Programme: The Fruiterers’ Year
The Company’s year commences on St Paul’s Day (25th January) which is the Feast-Day of the Conversion of St. Paul, the Patron Saint of the Company. On this day the new Master and Wardens take office. A Livery Service is held at St. Mary Abchurch in the City. The Company enjoys a long association with St Mary Abchurch, a Wren Church in which the Company is commemorated by a stained glass window designed by Lawrence Lee A.R.C.A., installed in 1976.
The Company’s Annual Livery Banquet takes place shortly after St. Paul’s Day, to which the new Master invites the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries.
In conjunction with the other food related Livery Companies the Company organises the City Food Lecture to promote informed debate of topical issues in food preparation and distribution.
Opportunities for the Company to entertain, and for its liverymen to mix, are provided at Court Dinners, which follow the year’s three other Court meetings. These are in May after the Audit Court, at which the annual accounts are received, in July after the Summer Court, and in November at the Master and Wardens Dinner. All Liverymen are encouraged to attend, where capacity permits.
The Company does not own its own hall but enjoys the rich variety afforded to its members and their guests by using the halls of various other City Livery Companies.
In addition, a number of informal lunches are held and the Master arranges one or two mixed social and educational events, usually outside London and often abroad. There is also an active Golf Society that enjoys an annual meeting in May and participation in inter-livery golf matches.
There is a continuing fruit-tree planting programme in prominent and important gardens and locations. These occasions also provide opportunities for Liverymen to meet both their fellow Liverymen and representatives at the very top of the horticultural profession.
Each October, the Company makes a formal presentation of fruit to the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House (most of which is later distributed to charity). The ceremony derives from the days when the fruit trade in London was in the hands of the Fruiterers Mystery (Company). The Lord Mayor, who appointed four Fruit Meters or measurers to decide the charges, levied tolls on fruit being brought into the City. Disputes arose from time to time and after one such in 1748, the Company agreed settlement on condition of an annual presentation of not more than 12 bushels of fruit to the Lord Mayor.