The Livery Today
The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, a City of London Livery Company, is motivated by its charitable objectives in seeking to maintain and build upon its charitable reserves to develop its research and educational programmes for the fruit industry and to provide fruit for the homeless. Despite being over 700 years old and deeply involved in upholding the traditions of the City of London, the Company focuses the overwhelming majority of its resources on promoting excellence and supporting education and research within the fruit industry, both independently and in partnership with others. Fruiterers actively work to identify and approach prospective commercial sponsors to support specific educational or research projects. It is a matter of pride that the Company acts as a catalyst for the fruit industry, enabling different sectors to come together at events and social gatherings. As the prime mover in the annual City Food Lecture, now promoted by the seven food-related Livery Companies, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers remains influential in the promotion of informed debate of the most topical issues in food preparation and distribution. Another important driver for Company activity is the health and welfare of the population of the United Kingdom, and its sponsorship of the Food Dudes programme that, with the backing of eminent child psychologists, aims to convert 4-10 year old school children through the medium of cartoon characters and rewards, to become regular life-long consumers of fruit and vegetables. Food Dudes is a proven success in Ireland and is currently being rolled out in England with the active support of the Company and its liverymen. As important as any of these ambitions, being a predominantly charitable organisation, the Company will remain active in raising funds for charity. Through the promotion of sales of its Fruit Baskets and a constant drive to expand its charitable funds, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers will continue to convert, where appropriate, funds to facilitate the provision of fruit to the homeless and needy in and around the City of London. The Company attracts members from all walks of life and it is this mix of interests and skills which creates a vibrant and relevant organization that retains its historic character and style, but is aware of the need to continually refresh its outlook and membership with new thinking and energy. For many years the Company has invited a distinguished Officer from each of the Armed Services to become an Honorary Freeman. The “Three Musketeers” – as they have always been known – are of the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, General and Air Chief Marshal and have enjoyed their common Livery background within the Order of the Bath whose motto is Tria Juncta in Uno (Three joined in one).
The Livery plays an integral role in the governance of the City, joining other Livery Companies in electing the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs in Common Hall at Guildhall each year. The supreme authority of the Livery is its Court that is comprised of its Master, Upper and Renter Wardens and 18 Assistants who meet quarterly to discuss and ratify committee recommendations for the governance of the Company. The Master is supported by the Wardens and a committee of Past Masters. The Clerk of the Company is responsible to the Master and Court and oversees the day-to-day management of Company matters. The Beadle is responsible for good order within the Company and carries out ceremonial duties. The Master, Wardens and Members of the Court join their counterparts from other Livery Companies at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the annual United Guilds Service. The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers also participates in the Lord Mayor’s Show from time to time. Over the 700 years of its history, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers has assumed a number of different roles. In early times, it was a classical medieval guild governing its trade, maintaining quality, training apprentices, caring for its members and doing other charitable works. However, by late Victorian times, while its connections with the trade had atrophied, the Company’s function as a City of London institution continued to flourish. During the 20th century, the Fruiterers returned to the Company. Now, in the 21st century, just over half the members are involved directly in the fruit industry. Companionship and conviviality have been, and remain, the golden thread that has sustained the Company through the centuries and many changes.
Procedures for Election to the Livery
Those seeking to join the Company are introduced by an existing member and must first become Freemen of the Company and, apart from election as an Honorary Freeman, there are three means by which this can be achieved. The most common is by Redemption. Having attained the age of 21, the applicant must be sponsored by two Liverymen of the Company, who have known him or her for at least three years, and who are satisfied that the standing of the candidate is compatible with the image and objectives of the Company’s general and social activities. After successful interview by the Master’s Committee, a recommendation is made to the Court that the candidate be elected to the Freedom. Once completed the candidate obtains the Freedom of the City of London and is then entitled to apply for the Livery of the Fruiterers Company. The remaining two options are Servitude and Patrimony. Admission by Servitude involves participation in the Company’s apprenticeship scheme and by Patrimony is open to those born after the admission of a parent, upon reaching the age of 21. The Apprenticeship Scheme allows for younger people to learn about the Company, without the full cost of membership, through their being ‘mentored’ by longer standing liverymen. Apprentices who may come from the fruit industry and such other professions as are represented within the Company must be aged between 21 and 35 at the start of their apprenticeship, which will last for four years from the date of sealing of the indenture by the Court.