Remembering the look of disbelief coming over a friends face when I said; “Just over 7,300”, in response to his question “How many people live in the City of London?” as thousands of commuters, heading for their offices hurried past, the coffee cart where were standing, made me realise how confusing London is for many visitors.
Although London is the capital of the United Kingdom there are actually two cities within London – The City of London and the City of Westminster and to add to the confusion the Greater London area that is home to over 8 million people.
The City of London (which is a ceremonial county) and The City of Westminster (which is in fact a borough) both have a Lord Mayor, each of London’s 31 other boroughs has its own local Mayor, and since 2000 London has elected the Mayor of London (that’s 34 Mayors all told!).
The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London, an office dating from 1189, is the head of the City of London Corporation, which provides local, policing and other services for the Square Mile.
The Mayor of London is an elected politician accountable for the strategic government of Greater London (but not the Square Mile).
Confused? Perhaps this lighted hearted video by C G P Grey will separate the wood from the trees, and explain why I decided to call this article Secret London. But, I should add the numbers quoted, in the video, are not accurate according to my informed sources.
Famous attractions such as St Paul’s Cathedral draw millions of visitors to the City of London every year but there is a lot more to see and do.
With a history stretching back to Roman times the City is home to historic pubs, hidden in alleyways, museums, art galleries, countless memorials and impressive ceremonies are just a few of the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in the famous ‘Square Mile’ where some of country’s most famous historic buildings nestle among the steel and glass canyons created by modern skyscrapers.
On your journey, through streets thronged with people heading to and from work during the week, or eerily quiet at the weekend when they have all gone home, the narrow alleyways and cobbled mews, reveal unexpected treasures where stories and secrets abound, nowhere less so than behind the doors of the City’s 40 Livery Company halls (Guilds).
Two thousand years of self-government, a fire which destroyed most of the city, and championing common law against state encroachment all play a part in the impressive ceremonies, customs, traditions, offices, events, landmarks and institutions that have formed the foundations of this great and famous City.
An ideal companion, to discover more about the Square Mile’s ceremonies customs and traditions is ‘The City of London Freeman’s Guide’.
Ever wanted to stay overnight in a Livery Hall, attend the Ceremony of the Quit Rents, Drive sheep across London Bridge, visit the Court of Chivalry, find out if your ancestor was a Freeman of a Livery Company, stand for election as an Ale Conner, or enjoy a curry lunch on HQS Wellington?
These and hundreds of other facts associated with the City, Livery and Freedom in modern times are to be found in this handy guidebook.
The City of London Freeman’s Guide is available in eBook format from Amazon and the Apple iBook Store, and in hardback from
St Paul’s Cathedral Book store, The City Visitor Centre, The Guildhall Art Gallery and The Guildhall Library.
The guide is also available ‘print on demand’ from Blurb.com
All proceeds go to the charitable trust of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists supporting education, assistive technologies for seriously disabled children, and other worthy causes.
Further details from: www.cityandlivery.co.uk