Episode 32: Medieval Guilds

The economic role played by London was became more and more significant for the royal government in Medieval times. They set national standards in aspects of commercial activity as well as for the supplying essential goods such as food and textiles. There are strongly held notions of corporate history among London’s livery companies, where connections with the crown and the monarch feature prominently. 

What are guilds and how did they come about?

Join London tour guides Hazel Baker and Ian McDiarmid as they discuss medieval guilds. 

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Hazel Baker: Hello and welcome to our London History Podcast, where we share our love of London, its people, places, and history in 20-minute espresso shots served with a dash of personality. I am your host Hazel Baker, London Tour Guide and CEO of London Guided Walks, providing private tours, treasure hunts, guided walks, and live London quizzes to Londoners and visitors alike.

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What we discuss:

Hazel Baker: Joining me in the studio today is City of London Tour Guide Ian McDiarmid.

Today we're going to be focusing on guilds in the City of London, but mainly through Medieval times.

  • What is a guild?
  • Why the word Guild? Why not association or group?
  • How did Guilds start?

Well you see this even in modern day. If you want to buy a mobile phone, you will notice that, you know, it was Cathaway house and orange and three, they would all have their shops right next to each other.

And so Medieval London, they're at that peak. How many were there?

So these secret societies, what did they do?

It also means that the quality of the standard of work surely is standardised and it's kept high as well. It also shows that justice has been done as well.

What's the worst thing that could happen if you were found to be below par?

But it's interesting because you're saying all these guilds with men meeting, I don't think any of them embroidered a pall.

And this is like, Dante's Inferno. You're not in heaven yet. You've got to work your way through, haven't you?

So you mentioned before that they have an order of precedence and surely that's got to have been contentious. I mean, who says that you're number three or number four?

Is this something that you hear, don't you? Say I'm all at sixes and sevens?

And what is the difference?

If you want to know a bit more about guilds then come on our Medieval Walk or our Best of Blackfriars available as a public walk, but also as a private tour. And we'll revisit the subject of guilds, but this time in a more modern context.

That's all for now. I'll catch you next week.

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