Worshipful Company of Grocers

Coordinates: 51°30′51″N 0°5′23″W / 51.51417°N 0.08972°W / 51.51417; -0.08972
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Grocers' Company
Grocers' arms:
Argent a Chevron Gules between nine Cloves six in chief and three in base Proper.
MottoGod Grant Grace
LocationGrocers' Hall, Princes Street, London EC2
Date of formation1345; 678 years ago (1345)
Company associationSpice merchants
Order of precedence2nd
Master of companyAlderman Charles Bowman

The Worshipful Company of Grocers is one of the 111 livery companies of the City of London, ranking second in order of precedence.

Established in 1345 for merchants engaged in the grocery trade, it is one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies.[1]


Armorial bearings of the Worshipful Company of Grocers at Grocers' Hall

Founded in the 14th century by members of the Guild of Pepperers, dating from 1180,[2] the company was responsible for maintaining standards for the purity of spices and for setting of certain weights and measures. Its membership until 1617 included suppliers of medicinal spices and herbs when the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries was formed.[3]

The guild was known as the Company of Grossers from 1373 until 1376 when it was renamed the Company of Grocers of London. In 1428, two years after building its first hall in Old Jewry, the company was granted a royal charter by King Henry VI of England.[4]

A Great Twelve City Livery Company, the Grocers rank second in the order of precedence after the Mercers. It is said that the Grocers' Company used to be first in precedence, until Queen Elizabeth I as Honorary Master of the Mercers' Company, found herself in procession after her coronation behind the Grocers' camel which was emitting unfortunate smells; as a result, the Mercers were promoted.

Today, the Grocers' Company exists as a charitable, constitutional and ceremonial institution which plays a significant role in the election of and supporting the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs of the City of London. The Company's motto is "God Grant Grace".[4] The company also provides banqueting and conference facilities at Grocers' Hall situated in Prince's Street, next to the Bank of England.[5][6]

Grocers' Hall[edit]

The fifth and current Grocers' Hall on Prince's Street, London EC2
The interior of Grocers' Hall, 1887

The earliest known Grocers' Hall was in Poultry, London, then known as Conningshop-Lane on account of the three conies or rabbits hanging over a poulterer's stall in the lane. It was built in 1428 on land once owned by Lord FitzWalter and let out "for dinners, funerals, county feasts and weddings". The roof and woodwork of the hall were destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire and afterwards a new roof was erected on the old walls while Sir John Cutler paid for a new parlour and dining room. The hall was again renovated in 1681 by the future Lord Mayor Sir John Moore. A new hall was built on the same site between 1798 and 1802 when part of the garden was sold to the Bank of England for the expansion of nearby Prince's Street.[7] However, frequent and extensive repairs were required due to the third hall's defective foundations, which was replaced by a fourth hall, completed in 1893 on Prince's Street. The hall survived the Blitz with only minor damage to its north wing, but was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1965, apparently caused by a lightbulb left on in the grand staircase beneath an oak lintel which smouldered and eventually ignited. The fifth and final hall was constructed nearby in 1970, also on Prince's Street, is the Grocers' home today.

Past Masters of the Grocers' Company include Lord Mayors Sir Robert Leigh,[8] Sir Robert Ladbroke, Sir Samuel Garrard and Timothy Coleridge, son of former Lloyd's of London chairman David Coleridge and brother of Sir Nicholas Coleridge.

The Master Grocer for 2022/23 is James Thompson. The Clerk to the Grocers' Company is Brigadier Greville Bibby and the Revd George Bush serves as Honorary Chaplain.[9]

Guild church[edit]

School and military affiliations[edit]

The Grocers' Company is responsible for the maintenance of Oundle School in Northamptonshire, which depicts the Grocers' crest of a camel as its school badge. Other schools maintained by the company are the Elms School in Colwall, Herefordshire as well as Reed's School whose Annual Foundation Appeal has been held at Grocers' Hall for over fifty years.[12] Furthermore, in 1876 the Company founded the Grocers' Company School, Hackney in the East End of London for the education of "sons of the middle classes", which was transferred into London County Council's control after that authority's formation in 1889 changing its name to Hackney Downs School; it closed in 1995. Hackney Downs depicted as its school badge a camel, for the Lower School, and a shield with cloves and the motto of the Grocers' Company for the Upper School; the Camel and Cloves are remembered to this day by old boys through the Clove Club. The Grocers' Company now maintains close links with and is the principal sponsor of Hackney's Mossbourne Academy, renowned for its excellent academic standards.[13] The Church of St Paul, Homerton, in Hackney was founded by the Company in 1890, but became redundant in 1981:[14][15] its edifice still displays the Grocers' coat of arms.[14]

The Grocers' Company is also affiliated with HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, and with the Coldstream Guards, the oldest regular regiment of the British Army as well as XI (F) Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Eglinton Village in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was established by the Grocers' Company in 1619 under the name of Muff; the local Castle Credit Union[16] has assumed use of the Company's crest, as has Eglinton Primary School.[17][18]

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Northill, in Bedfordshire displays the Grocers' coat of arms on a stained glass window by John Oliver, commissioned by the Company in 1664.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ www.british-history.ac.uk
  2. ^ Jean Bellamy. "The Worshipful Company of Grocers". TimeTravel-Britain.com (History Magazine) July–September 2006 issue.
  3. ^ www.apothecaries.org
  4. ^ a b "The Worshipful Company of Grocers: Arms & History". Heraldic Media Limited. By 1373 the Company became known as Grocers or, more properly, grocers because they dealt in bulk, i.e. were wholesale merchants.
  5. ^ "A Modern Interpretation of Classic Cuisine: A Culinary Experience at the Grocers' Hall". London Launch, 24 April 2007.
  6. ^ "CIBSE Presidential address: Look back and learn to complete the circle". Voltimum: The First European Portal for the Electrical Industry. The CIBSE Annual General Meeting and Presidential Address took place at the Worshipful Company of Grocers on 3 May 2007.
  7. ^ Timbs, John (1855). Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis. D. Bogue. p. 397.
  8. ^ www.mapoflondon.uvic.ca
  9. ^ www.theroyalexchange.co.uk
  10. ^ "Grocers' Company - Livery Companies of the City of London". liverydatabase.liverycompanies.info. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  11. ^ www.stmarylebow.org.uk
  12. ^ "Reed's School". networkreeds.org.
  13. ^ "Roundcube Webmail :: Welcome to Roundcube Webmail". mossbourne.hackney.sch.uk.
  14. ^ a b G, Sludge (13 April 2009), Grocers' Company Foundation stone,former St Paul, Glyn Road, E5, retrieved 26 September 2020
  15. ^ Saint Paul, Homerton: Glyn Road, Hackney. <corpname>Church of England, St Paul's Parish, Homerton</corpname>. 1887–1981.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  16. ^ "Lowest Price on Brand Shoes Fast Shipping in UK". castleandminster.co.uk.
  17. ^ "school-sites.org".
  18. ^ "Eglinton Primary School, Londonderry – The Good Schools Guide". The Good Schools Guide.
  19. ^ "Church of St Mary the Virgin, Northill". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 March 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

51°30′51″N 0°5′23″W / 51.51417°N 0.08972°W / 51.51417; -0.08972