History of the Company
From the Idea to the Society
During an informal lunch in the City, a few members of the Lighting Industry decided to proceed with the formation of a Society called the Lightmongers to foster fellowship within the industry. The inaugural meeting was held on 3rd November 1953. Max Millar was appointed President and the appeal of the Society was immediate and membership grew rapidly, but was agreed to be limited to 110 members which was the City voltage at that time. This oil lamp donated to the Society in 1957 inspired the symbol incorporated into the Company’s coat of arms.
From Society to Guild
In the minutes of the 1960 AGM, the ambition to become a livery company with the requisite qualifications required for recognition was outlined. In 1965 the Society changed its name to Guild of Lightmongers and officers were renamed to match those of Livery Companies, Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden. The first full meeting of the Court of Assistants was held on 15th February 1967 and a motto ’Dominus illuminatio mea et Salus mea’ (The Lord is my light and my help) was chosen. In 1969 informal advice was received from Guildhall stipulating a registered address in the City and the holding of Court meetings in a Livery Hall at least three times per year. Historically the Wax Chandlers and Tallow Chandlers were suppliers of light, but both regarded electric light as being worthy of a new Guild and became very supportive. Following agreement of the Tallow Chandlers, in October 1970 the first Court meeting was held in Tallow Chandlers’ Hall. Also in 1970, Sidney Birch was appointed Clerk and he guided the Company for 25 years until 1995.
City Livery Companies
Trade and craft associations have flourished all over Europe for many centuries, but the City of London companies, originally known as Guilds are now collectively known as the Livery and are unique in their survival, number and diversity. The social and economic conditions that gave birth to the original guilds have long since been overtaken by the development of industry and commerce, but the livery companies still flourish today as living institutions. They have survived by doing what they have always done: fostering their trade in a wide context, serving the community through education and charity, and embracing modern skills and professions. Today there are 110 livery companies in the City of London. (www.cityoflondon.gov.uk)
Grant of Livery
Through the efforts of the Company Officers over the next 14 years, the status of the Guild within the City was enhanced and in 1984, under the guidance of Sir Edward Howard, the procedure for delivering the “Petition of Livery to the Court” of Aldermen was delivered to the City Solicitor. With his approval it was signed by Sir Edward Howard and the officers of the Court and delivered to Guildhall. In the public gallery of the Inner Chamber at Guildhall on 17th July 1984, the Master Ken Last and Clerk, Sidney Birch witnessed the actual Grant of Livery. Membership of the Livery was increased to 240, being the revised City voltage.
The coat of Arms was prepared by the Heraldic Painters of the College of Arms with the motto-Dominus Illuminatio Mea et Salus Mea (The Lord is my Light and my Help). It has been kept simple with the main feature being the Flame, which the Company came to regard as its particular emblem. The Dragon on the crest is a reference to the City of London and upon each of its wings is a “Mill Cross” or Cross Moline” in recognition of the considerable part the late Max Millar played in the foundation of the Guild and the Dragon holds a particular kind of early bronze oil lamp given to the Company. The supporters are heraldic “beasts”, a male Griffin and a Panther. The former, from the earliest days of its appearance in heraldic imagery, is always depicted with rays issuing from various parts of its body and hence look rather like shafts of light. The heraldic Panther, also symbolizes light because it is always shown “incensed” i.e. the flames issuing from its jaws and out of its ears. This relates to the flame depicted in the shield.
The Royal Charter
Following the successful petition to the Crown, through the Privy Council, together with the approval of the City of London, our Royal Charter was granted in July 2012.
The Company continues to flourish and still holds its’ Court Meetings in Tallow Chandlers’ Hall, as it did in 1970, where the Royal Charter document is proudly displayed.