The Company Year
Just as the year in the City begins with the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor, so the Weavers' Company's year begins when the new Upper Bailiff takes office early in October with a Court meeting at which the new Bailiffs and Wardens assume office, which is followed by a Court Dinner.
Fellowship is an important factor in the life of the Company, and in December the annual Livery Dinner is held in one of the great Livery Company Halls. The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs are invited and, in full evening dress, the Livery and distinguished guests including the Masters, Prime Wardens and Clerks of other Companies, after dining, drink to each other in three‑handled loving cups, commissioned to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of H.M. the Queen, in the traditional Ceremony of the Loving Cup which is said to date back to the year 978.
At the end of February, the annual Limborough Lecture is delivered. This stems from a legacy provided by James Limborough, a prosperous member of the Court of Assistants in the eighteenth century, to fund a series of lectures "to promote useful religious knowledge and real wholeness of heart and life". The Lecture is sometimes given by the Company's Chaplain but is often given by other distinguished churchmen, and the Lectures have been enhanced by the privilege of hearing them in places such as Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret's Westminster and Temple Church.
The Ladies' Dinner in May is a pleasant domestic occasion, though formal, to which Liverymen invite their ladies (or lady Liverymen their gentlemen) and to which a distinguished lady principal guest is invited.
At Midsummer the Liverymen of the City gather in Guildhall to elect the two Sheriffs.
On St. James's Day, 25th July, members of the Company and guests, joined by some residents from Weavers' House, gather to hear Divine Service with traditional prayers, fine singing and a sermon. "Breakfast" follows at a Livery Hall, after which the Livery is summoned to Common Hall by the Beadle. This formal annual meeting of the Livery is brought to order by the thrice‑called "Oyez" of the Beadle robed in blue and gold and carrying the staff which has been carried by Beadles of the Weavers' Company since the sixteenth century. The Bailiffs, Wardens and Livery Auditors for the following year are elected. The Upper Bailiff then gives his report on the year's activities of the Company.
At Michaelmas Liverymen attend the election of the Lord Mayor at Common Hall in the City. While the Liverymen are gathering together in Guildhall, the Upper Bailiff together with all the Masters and Prime Wardens of the other Livery Companies joins the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, the Aldermen and chief City officials at a service in St. Lawrence Jewry. They then process into Guildhall where Liverymen take part in a time-honoured ceremony at which they nominate, by raising their hands and calling out, two of the eligible Aldermen from whom the Court of Aldermen elect the next Lord Mayor.
The year ends with a Court Dinner early in October on the eve of the Court meeting at which the new Bailiffs and Wardens assume office.
All these activities keep the Company occupied with regular Court and Committee meetings, official functions and visits. The Upper Bailiff represents the Company throughout the country and enjoys the colour, tradition and hospitality of the City of London, as well as taking pride in the part the Weavers' Company plays in the welfare of the City and of society at large. All members of the Company, young and old, look forward to the future and to taking their part in the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The traditional toast never loses its meaning as the Upper Bailiff rises on the Company's great occasions to propose:
The Worshipful Company of Weavers, root and branch, and may it flourish for EVER.