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Customs & Etiquette
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when the first Trade Guilds were formed, the members were drawn from a very close-knit community. Indeed it was a pre-requisite that to be a member of a Trade Guild in the City of London one lived and worked within the City boundaries. Although today the City is but a square mile (or just slightly over) in those days the City was even smaller. It can easily be appreciated therefore that there was little need for formal rules to govern conduct at gatherings of Guild members. In any case it was not until many years later that social formalities became accepted and were applied. Even then as members of the Guilds (or livery companies) were drawn from within the City boundaries accepted patterns of formality and protocol were widely known and readily accepted.
Today almost all livery companies draw their members from a much wider area than the narrow confines of the City of London. Not all members may be aware of the livery customs and etiquette and the aim of this item is to inform and thus make the Company’s functions more pleasurable for all who attend.
Dress: The normal dress for formal dinners is black tie (i.e. dinner jacket); lady members and guests should wear long or medium length dresses. Dress for other functions is lounge suit unless otherwise stipulated.
Medals: Medals should be worn at all formal functions when the invitation stipulates.
Arrival: Members should ensure that they and their guests arrive promptly to avoid unnecessary delays to the programme. Upon arrival they should make themselves known to the Master before circulating.
Electronic devices: electronic devices should not be used during formal events.
Leaving Table: Members should not leave the dining table before the Master except in a case of emergency. At the conclusion of dinner when the Master and guests are due to leave their table all members and their guests should stand and wait until the Master has left the room. A ‘comfort’ break will usually be announced but if not a ‘comfort visit’ should be taken during coffee after the loyal toast before the speeches begin. Members should not leave table during a speech or presentation.
Speeches and Presentations: Silence should be observed during all speeches, presentations and during any entertainment.
Guests: Members are responsible for the behaviour of their guests.
Addressing the Master: Throughout the term of his office, the Master should be referred to as “Master” rather than by name, however familiar one is with him or her. This is particularly important when other Livery Companies are present at functions or meetings.