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Worshipful Company of Vintners

Coordinates: 51°30′37″N 0°05′39″W / 51.51015°N 0.09406°W / 51.51015; -0.09406
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vintners' arms:
Sable a Chevron between three Tuns Argent
The Vintners' Company dining hall

The Worshipful Company of Vintners, one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies, retains close links with the wine trade.

The Vintners' Company traces its origins to the 12th century and received its swan rights from King Edward IV.

Its motto is Vinum Exhilarat Animum, Latin for "Wine cheers the Spirit".[1]

History and origins[edit]

The vintners of London formed a guild as early as the twelfth century and received their first royal charter in 1363.[2] This granted far-reaching powers including duties of search throughout English dominions and the right to buy herrings and cloth to sell to the Gascons.

This royal charter effectively granted a monopoly over wine imports from Gascony, securing the Company pre-eminence in the wine trade. Ranked eleventh in 1515 when the order of precedence of City Livery Companies was established by King Henry VIII, Queen Mary revoked the Company's rights in 1553. Its privileges removed under the Stuarts were restored by William and Mary, but the Company could not recover its former trading dominance in Europe. By 1725 few wine merchants were joining the livery, so the Company finally abandoned claim to the duty of search.

Until 2006, the Vintners' Company retained autonomous alcohol sale licensing rights in certain areas of England, such as the City of London and along the route of the old Great North Road. Its ancient rights being abolished, limited privileges remain to the livery.[3]

Actively engaged in wine trade education, including the prestigious Master of Wine qualification, the Vintners' Company supports many charities, including those concerned with treating the effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

Vintners' Hall is situated on Lower Thames Street by Southwark Bridge, in Vintry Ward, London EC4. In medieval times, nearby Garlickhythe was where garlic and wine from France were docked in the City.

Swan upping[edit]

Since the reign of King Edward IV, the Vintners enjoy a peculiar right of swan upping,[4] whereby swans on the Thames are apportioned among the Crown, the Vintners' and Dyers' Companies.[5]

Vintners' swans are given two nicks to the beak (the Dyers' have one): hence The Swan with Two Necks, London.


The Vintners elect a new Master annually in July, celebrated by a publication service at the Guild Church of St James Garlickhythe, opposite the livery hall. The procession starts at Vintners' Hall with the Master and Wardens in Tudor dress carrying nosegays, their path being swept by a Wine Porter using a birch broom.

Sir Lionel Denny,[6] is the Vintner most recently to serve as Lord Mayor of London, and elected Master Vintner for 2023/24 is Ant Fairbank.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Crawford, Anne (1977). A History of the Vintners' Company (Constable, London), 319 pp.
  • Herbert, William (1836). 'Vintners' Company', 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 , Vol. II, pp. 625-42.


  1. ^ www.royal.uk
  2. ^ Anne Crawford, A History of the Vintners' Company (Constable, London, 1977), p. 24.
  3. ^ "Free vintners". The Vintners' Company.
  4. ^ Swan Upping – The Vintners' Company
  5. ^ www.royal.uk
  6. ^ www.burkespeerage.com
  7. ^ Country Life - Mrs Anthony Fairbank, Mistress Vintner
  8. ^ Rogers, John (16 March 2002). "Liberty X Video Shoot 'Just A Little'". Getty Images. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  9. ^ Webb, Mimi (7 October 2022). "Mimi Webb - Ghost of You (Official Music Video)". YouTube. Retrieved 31 March 2023.

External links[edit]

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