United Guilds Service, St Paul's Cathedral 24 March 2023
This spectacular Service is held in St Paul’s Cathedral. All 110 Livery companies attend, along with the Companies and Guilds of the City, with Company representatives wearing gowns and badges. There is a procession of Livery Masters of the Great Twelve, plus twelve other Livery Companies on rotation.
The traditional service is attended by The Bishop of London and The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Sheriffs and the Aldermen. This year, the preacher leading the service was The Dean of Westminster Abbey, The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle MBE.
The Annual United Guilds Service was first established in 1943 and continues to serve as a reminder of the religious origins of the Guilds. At a meeting of the Masters and PrimeWardens of the Great Twelve Companies, held at Goldsmiths’ Hall on 1 February 1943, it was decided to hold a service in St Paul’s Cathedral for the Livery Companies and Guilds of the City of London.
The idea behind the service was to help lift the spirits of the City following the Blitz during the Second World War. Having regard to the religious origins of the Companies, Thursday 25 March 1943, Lady Day, was selected as the date for the Service, being the first day of the year according to the Julian calendar.
The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor of London, Sir Samuel Joseph, attended along with the Sheriffs and Court of Aldermen and the Right Reverend The Lord Bishop of London, Dr G. F. Fisher, preached the sermon.
As far as records show, this was the first occasion on which all the Livery Companies and Guilds of the City combined to hold a religious service. Since then it has become an annual event and remains one of the few occasions in the calendar at which the Livery Companies and Guilds of the City can gather together as a whole.