A selection of things that you might find of interest about the City of London and our Ward
We really do hope that over time this section of our web-site will offer changing insights into City Life both Civic and Social
Section 1 Events
Section 2 How the City Works
Section 3 - "bits and Pieces"

Doggett's Coat and Badge
Bells of the City
Leadenhall Market

 

How the City of London Works

City Civic
The role of Common Councilman and The Ward Clerk
A view from a new and (not so) new Common Councilman - Elizabeth Rogula
Having been originally elected to represent the Ward of Lime Street
in July 2008 via a by-election, I was delighted to be re-elected in March 2009 for a period of 4 years.

I had no real idea of what to expect of the role when I first stood for election but I have really enjoyed my time so far, in particularly getting to know more about how this amazing City is governed. As a Common Councilman I sit on two committees, Markets and also Community and Children’s Services, both which meet once a month. The Markets Committee is responsible for looking after the affairs of Billingsgate Fish Market, Smithfield Meat Market and Spitalfields Fruit Market. To be able to see how they work has been fascinating I would highly recommend attending the Harvest Festival at Billingsgate. This is a unique experience, singing hymns in the middle of the market, whilst it was trading, accompanied by a fantastic brass band at 7.15 in the morning! I would encourage anyone to visit these markets during their trading times as the atmosphere is fantastic and the produce both fresher and cheaper that you will ever find in a supermarket.

The Community and Children’s Services Committee provides housing accommodation and sporting and leisure opportunities for residents of the City and those who work in the City or for the City of London. The Committee is also responsible for the full range of Social Services functions within the City.

The Court of Common Council meets every month (other than August) at Guildhall. The Court debates and makes decisions on the most crucial issues that have arisen from the work of the City of London’s many different committees. Did you know that its format has not changed in hundreds of years and members of the public are welcome to attend? For more information see http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

I have been very lucky to attend a number of banquets at Guildhall and Mansion House and my only complaint is that the gentlemen, in particular the Lord Mayor, can sometimes look more glamorous in their ceremonial attire than the ladies!

Robert Howard
Following the retirement of Christine Cohen OBE as a Common Councilman after 25 years of service to the City an Election was held with one of our Ward Club members being elected by a substantial majority – an early insight into the role of a new Common Councilman follows.

Following the election on 10th May, I was appointed to two major Committees: Planning & Transportation and Port Health & Environmental Services. As an apolitical body, the Corporation works through committees and these are two of the big ones, being responsible for much of the infrastructure of our City.

 I feel very fortunate to be on these committees and have come to appreciate the advantages of being a Member for a relatively small Ward like Lime Street – around half of the Corporation’s main committees are designated as Ward Committees, meaning that each of the City’s 25 Wards appoints a Councilman to sit on them; with only three of us in Lime Street, this means there is plenty of work to go round for your busy Lime Street Councilmen!

 In this respect, I have also come to appreciate very quickly quite how much work this involves. For example the Planning & Transportation Committee meets every three weeks, ahead of which its members are sent voluminous briefing reports. The Committees tend to meet in the middle of the day, my first one lasted four hours - and the prior reading material ran to over 1,000 pages! That this should be the case is perhaps not surprising, given the Committee’s critical role in agreeing and approving planning consents for the City’s new buildings, which of course we know all about in our Ward, and in the past two months the approvals have included a major office development to replace the current St Alphage House on London Wall, another on the corner of Old Bailey and Ludgate Hill, a new hotel in the Minories and a new cinema in the Barbican. At the same time, the Committee is overseeing the City’s transportation upgrades, including preparations for next year’s Olympics. It really is incredibly exciting to be part of the process and to see the future City taking shape around us, not least in Lime Street Ward itself, where so much present development is focused.

 The Port Health & Environmental Services Committee meets less frequently but covers an incredible array of different services provided by the City, including keeping our City streets clean and monitoring 150km of the tidal Thames (my first responsibility involved a fascinating guided visit to the Thames Barrier). Recent meetings of this Committee have included issues such as the proposed expansion of the animal reception centre at Heathrow, which the Corporation operates; sun bed regulation; the monitoring of air quality in the Square Mile; and the publication of the City’s Tree Policy, amongst others. The Corporation covers such a broad range of responsibilities and it is wonderful to see it at work.

 There are many other Committees and Working Groups within the Corporation, onto some of which one has to be elected by one’s fellow Councilmen, and I feel that I am in excellent company at the start of a fascinating journey. I do hope that I can represent the voters of Lime Street Ward to the best of my abilities, and I am ever so grateful to my fellow Lime Street Ward Councilmen, and to the Ward Club, for being so very supportive while I find my feet – and for making it all so much fun!

 

The Role of the Ward Clerk
John Bristow long standing member of the Ward club explains his role

The City's unique electoral system predates Parliament and the division of the City into 25 wards is evident in the earliest written records. The wards were the military, judicial and administrative units for the area.

In Saxon times the Wardmote referred to a meeting of the ward held to announce candidates for an election. The Wardmote provided the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and also for the candidates to address the electors.

On the second Friday in March a Wardmote is still held in each ward and the honorary Ward Clerk here performs his annual duties.

The Town Clerk of the City of London at Guildhall is the man who officially oversees elections but because all 25 Wardmotes take place on the same day, each ward has an honorary Ward Clerk to act as secretary at the Wardmote. The Ward Clerk arranges the agenda and reports back to Guildhall on any discussions which have taken place and on any requests made by the electors. The Wardmote is chaired by the Alderman and attended by the Ward Common Councilmen. In 2011 our Alderman Sir John, was especially busy as there was a contested election for a seat as Common Councilman in Lime Street Ward - see above.

The position of Honorary Ward Clerk is in the gift of the Alderman and is an annual appointment.

Every four years there is an election for Common Councilmen, and the Alderman has to seek re-election every six years. On these occasions the honorary Ward Clerk has certain other duties, such as reading at the Wardmote the precept. This is an instruction from the Lord Mayor to hold an election.

In our Ward it is essential that electors are allowed into Lloyd's, where the Wardmote is usually held, and entry is generally given to holders of the Lloyd's security pass. Organising this is generally the Ward Clerk's job, as is ensuring that the Alderman, Beadle, Common Councilmen, electors and candidates are aware of the arrangements and agenda.

The post carries a small stipend but it is a great honour to be asked to take up this traditional role.

The City of London - the most ancient part of the metropolis called Greater London. The Guildhall operates as its "town hall"

The City, Court of Aldermen, Court of Common Council, City of London Corporation - in process of being put together - please be patient

City of London Corporation is the local authority for The City of London reposible for 300,000 commuters per day, 7,900 +/- residents.
One of the City Corporation's main objectives is to support and promote the City as the world leader in International Finance and Business services
There is a structured range of committees under the title of Court of Common Council. The overall strategic direction is set by its Policy and Resources Committee. As with any local authority it is involved in planning, housing, highways, cleansing, parks and gardens, health, markets, education, the arts and so on

The City Owns over 10,000 acres of green spaces from the small City Gardens all over the Square Mile to Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches fall under its remit.

Is responsible for the City of London Police, The Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey, the 5 City Bridges (ex railway bridges) (Tower, London, Southwark, Blackfriars and Millenium), Barbican Arts Centre (home to the London Symphony Orchestra - LSO, sponsored by the City Corporation.

The City Bridge Trust - sole trustee City of London Coroporation, funds the maintenance of the 5 City Bridges and in addition donates "in many cases very quietly" around £1,500,000 to worth causes.  

Section 3  Bits and Pieces
For anyone interested in Tower Bridge, Amazing old photographs of its construction follow this link and be surprised.

 

Doggett's Coat and Badge
The oldest skulling race in the world. Held every year, first race 1715.  Thomas Doggett offered a prize for the fastest apprentice oarsman, London Bridge to Chelsea Bridge The winner receiving his "coat and badge".

Gulidhall (with thanks to the City of London Corporation)

 

    

The City of London has been governed from the area occupied by Guldhall for more than 800 years. The current building was built between 1411 and 1430. The Crypt, Porch and Medieval Walls have remained since then even enduring the Great Fire of London 1666 and the Blitz in 1940.

There are two crypts, the Western one believed to have been an undercroft of an earler Guildhal (restored in 1973), the Eastern is 15th C (restored in 1961)     

Bells of City Churches
Almost all of the City of London Church Bells were rung as the Queen passed various parts of the City during her Jubilee Pagent - June 3rd 2012. Leading the procession was a specially designed boat carrying one set of new bells - a peal of 12, cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry (closed down in 2017) (we visited them in 2011) for St Dunstan in the West. (Fleet Street)

"Oranges and Lemons, say the Bells of St Clement's, You owe me five farthings say the Bells of St Martin's, When will you pay me says the Bells of Old Bailey, When I grow rich says the Bells of Shoreditch, when will that be says the great Bell at Stepney, I do not know says the great Bell of Bow (Cheapside)"

Did you know that it was the  Bells of St Mary le Bow (as above) that Richard Whittington is meant to have heard when travelling up Highgate Hill in 1397 - calling out "turn again Whittington - Lord Mayor of London". He was Lord Mayor three times. The peel of 12 bells each has an inscrption from the Psalms on them, the first letter of each spells out D Whittington

Leadenhall Market
Its current claim to fame is being used for various scenes in Harry Potter films (area around The Leaky Cauldron and Dragon Alley)

 

It was the sight of the Forum in Roman Britain - ther largest of its size at the time in Northern Europe.It became the meeting place for Pouterersin the 14thC shortly followed by Cheesemongers. In 1411 it was bought by The Lord Mayor of London, "Dick Whittington". The cuurent version was designed by Horace Jones in 1881 - he also designed, Spittlefield and Billingsgate markets.

Gin at the end of Dinner ?
Traditionally I believe at the end of formal Dinners with The Clothworkers Company - guests have a choice of Brandy or Gin - with the question "Do you dine with The Alderman (Brandy) or Lady Cooper (Gin) ?
Why ?
Tradition says that Alderman Cooper in 1664 collapsed and was given brandy to help resucitate him - he died. His wife complained that if he had been given his normal "tipple"  - Gin - He would have recovered.