The United Guilds Service
The Vintners’ Foundation makes an annual grant to the United Guilds Service.
The first United Guilds Service was held on Lady Day, 25 March 1943. One reason given for its institution was to remember the religious origins of the guilds but essentially it arose out of the desire of the Companies to unite and help to solve the problems facing the blitz-damaged City.
At the meeting of the Masters and Clerks of the Twelve Great Companies on 1st February 1943 it was resolved to hold the service and to send a petition to the King that he attend. The Masters and Prime Wardens were to attend in their robes with such of their livery as ‘may be able’.
In the event the King did not attend, but the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen did. Dr. Fisher, the Bishop of London, gave the address. The Lord Mayor gave an austerity luncheon after the service to the Masters and Prime Wardens.
In his speech the Lord Mayor hoped that the service would be held annually, for it gave an opportunity for the Livery to ‘approach God with one voice of united prayer’. The Master of the Mercers, Lt. Col. E. Clementi Smith, replied and emphasised how the Companies could be relied upon to do everything possible to rebuild the City.
The United Guilds Service now takes place each year, filling St Paul’s Cathedral to capacity. Members of all companies join with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, with great ceremony and beautiful music, and an address by a leading churchman.