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  The role of the Officers of the Worshipful Company
of Chartered Surveyors, and of Livery Companies generally


Livery Companies in the City of London represent various historic trade associations almost all of which are known as the "Worshipful Company of…" (their relevant trade, craft or profession). The medieval companies originally developed as guilds and were responsible for the regulation of their trades, controlling, for instance, standards, wages and labour conditions. There are now approximately 109 active companies which play an important role in the social life and networking in the City and have a long and proud history of culture and education patronage. They retain voting rights for the City of London Corporation, the Local Authority with extensive local government powers.

Livery Companies are governed by a Master (known in some companies as the Prime Warden or Bailiff), a number of Wardens – usually two, (who may be known as the Junior, Senior, Upper, Middle, Lower or Renter Wardens) and a Court of Assistants which elects the Master and Wardens. The Chief Operating Officer of the Company is known as the Clerk.

The Master

This is the most senior position in the Livery Company. The Master is responsible for the governance and ordnances of the Livery in much the same way as a chairman of a company. The Master chairs the Court meetings and a number of the committees, leads ceremonial occasions and introduces the speakers at Livery dinners as well as thanking the guests. Other roles include direct support for the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and Alderman and the Corporation of London with its elected Ward members.

The Master is also required to make a number of appointments including the positions of Senior and Junior Warden and promote new Livery members for election to the Court.

The Master holds the position for one year from the date of the Installation Court and dinner, usually held in the second or third week of each year. On completing the year of office the Master becomes a Past Master and sits on the Court for a further period of five years.

Senior and Junior Wardens

These liverymen are appointed by the Master, following election by the Court, and take up their roles at the same time as the Master at the Installation Court held in October each year. It is usual for the Junior Warden to become the Senior Warden as each passes towards the position of Master.

Their duties are to support the Master during their year of office, to deputise for the Master in appropriate circumstances at meetings and ceremonial functions, and to ensure the direction and business plan of the Livery as set out by the Master and Court is properly maintained and progressed.

Past Masters

Past Masters are all those members of the Livery who have held the position of Master. They are seen as the senior members of the Livery having held high office within it.

After finishing their year as Master they remain on the Court as a Past Master for five years. Their duties are to support the activities of the Livery and provide advice and assistance when called upon to do so by the Master.

Committee Chairmen

The Livery has a number of Committees where the Master appoints the members of each Committee and its Chairman so as to ensure it may discharge its duties and function.

The Committee Chairmen are required to ensure that appropriate meetings are held to discuss the business of the committee and to ensure that such business is actioned in an appropriate manner by the members of the committee and others. They have a duty to report to the Master and the Court usually by the production of minutes of the meetings, but it is usual for each Committee Chairman to provide a verbal update of the committee's activities at each Court meeting.

Beadle

The position of the Beadle is derived from the Latin word 'bidellus' which means 'herald'. A herald was originally an official of the Roman Temple and the word' beadle' has also been used to describe early policemen and church or parish wardens.

Livery Companies, as they have evolved over many hundreds of years, required a point of contact between the Master and Wardens with the Court of Assistants and the Livery in general. They therefore appointed and paid for a Beadle who took care of the Company's meeting place, usually referred to as a Hall, called the Court members and/or Livery together on behalf of the Master and enforced any disciplinary measures decided by the Court. The Beadle would also find suitable premises and organise social and ceremonial functions. The position was therefore originally that of a policeman, an almoner, a friend, social worker and a communicator.

Whilst the Livery all lived and worked within the Square Mile of the City of London, the Beadle was able to summon them personally but, as people became dispersed, there grew a need for someone who could write and so use the new postal services to summon the Court. The humble Clerks then began their rise in importance to the position they hold today as the effective Chief Executives of the Companies. By contrast the office of the Beadle has meanwhile become a purely ceremonial function. Nevertheless the Beadle plays an important role in the ceremonies of the Livery, calling the Court or those assembled to order and ensuring that the programme for dinners and other meetings is adhered to. The Beadle is also responsible for ensuring the Master and Wardens receive their gowns and chains of office and are properly attired at each formal event. In this respect the Beadle is often issued with a 'Staff of Office' (not a mace) with which to protect the Master and enforce discipline. The Staff is usually a tall one so it can be used as a rallying point at Common Hall etc when the Livery is summoned to attend upon the Master.

The Clerk

The Clerk has one of the most important positions in the Livery being responsible for the organisation and administration of the Court and Livery and its activities. The Clerk therefore has wide ranging duties including the general management of the Company, coordinating and overseeing charitable and educational support activities, organising ceremonial and social functions and reporting to the Master and the Court on all these matters.

It is usual for the Clerk to attend all the Court meetings, dinners and meetings of the committees and prepare as appropriate the minutes of each meeting which are then issued to the Master, Wardens, Court members and committee members as appropriate.

Consequently the Clerk has to be an experienced project manager and administrator with flair and financial competence, a good communicator to establish rapport and gain respect, to be computer literate and to have contacts with the other Liveries (usually through their Clerks), in industry, with the appropriate officers of the Corporation of London and charities and financial organisations which are useful in support of the activities of the Livery.

Secretary to the Clerk

The business of the Liveries and the responsibility of the Clerks is such that it is usually necessary to engage a "Secretary to the Clerk". Work undertaken by the secretary is varied depending upon the precise requirements for each Livery but will often include the typing and circulation of correspondence, preparing dinner lists and seating plans, maintaining the Livery's database and computer records and generally supporting the Clerk on the day-to-day business of the Livery.

 
   
       
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