The Livery Companies of the City of London are the descendents of the ancient guilds which controlled England's trades in the middle ages, and which now administer large charitable funds, as well as supporting schools, universities and almshouses. Their wealth is based mainly on bequests and gifts of land and buildings acquired over the centuries. Few of them have any links with their original trades, though a few, like the Goldsmiths, still do (see cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corp… )
Of the 108 livery companies, the oldest make up 'the Great Twelve', and the Drapers - which once controlled the woolen cloth trade - ranks at No 3 in an order of precedence settled as long ago as 1515 (the Mercers - the general merchants - and the Grocers are No 1 and 2).
Most of the companies have splendid halls with wonderful collections of paintings and silver, and hold magnificent dinners for their members (called Liveryman) and for worthies such as the Lord Mayor and the heads of the armed forces. Fortunately, the halls can also be hired for parties, receptions and weddings and make fascinating venues, full of history.
The Drapers' Hall is argueably the finest of all, and one can hire the Livery Hall, the Court Dining Doom and the Drawing room for up to 400 people (though it's also possible to give small dinner) . Catering is by the hall staff and is high quality. Details of the rooms are available here thedrapers.co.uk/Banquet…
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