Worshipful Company of Vintners

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Arms of the Worshipful Company of Vintners: Sable, a chevron between three tuns argent
Dining hall in Vintners' Hall

The Worshipful Company of Vintners is one of the most ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, England, thought to date back to the 12th century. It is one of the "Great Twelve" livery companies of London, and its motto is Vinum Exhilarat Animum, Latin for "Wine Cheers the Spirit". One of the more peculiar rights of the Company involves the ceremony of swan upping.

History and origins[edit]

It probably existed as early as the twelfth century, and it received a Royal Charter in 1364. Due to the Royal Charter, the Company gained a monopoly over wine imports from Gascony. Also, it acquired the right to sell wine without a licence, and it became the most powerful company in the wine trade. However, in 1553, it lost its right to sell wine anywhere in the country.

Up to 2006, Vintners retained the right to sell wine without a licence in certain areas, such as the City of London or along the route of the old Great North Road. This right has now been abolished, but limited privileges remain.[1]

The Vintners' Company ranks eleventh in the order of precedence of Livery Companies, making it one of the "Great Twelve Livery Companies".

Vintners' Hall is situated by Southwark Bridge, in Vintry ward. The nearby Garlickhythe was a dock where French garlic and wine were landed, from medieval times.

Swan upping[edit]

One of the more peculiar rights of the company involves the ceremony of swan upping.[2]

Procession of the Worshipful Company of Vintners[edit]

The Worshipful Company of Vintners elects its new Master each year in July, and this is celebrated with a special service at the Church of St James Garlickhythe, which is just across the road from their Hall. The Procession starts at Vintners Hall with the Master and Wardens in Tudor dress carrying nosegays. Their path is swept by a wine porter using a birch broom.

See also[edit]


  • William Herbert (1836). The History of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of London: Principally Compiled from Their Grants and Records : with an Historical Essay, and Accounts of Each Company : Including Notices and Illustrations of Metropolitan Trade and Commerce, as Originally Concentrated in Those Societies : with Attested Copies and Translations of the Companies' Charters, Volume 2. William Herbert.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′37″N 0°05′39″W / 51.51015°N 0.09406°W / 51.51015; -0.09406