Origins of the Current City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild



Installation of the first Master of the Guild (pictured above) in 1946 of Councillor Alec Turner by the Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lee-Gordon with Lord Iliffe (seated on the left of the picture), the Lord Mayor’s Secretary Mr. M Stover (standing behind) and Sir Edward Wilshaw and Mr Francis Sully, Master of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London (seated on the right of the picture above).

Other people who were at the ceremony in 1946. (L to R above) Sir Miles Thomas, The Lady Mayoress (in the background), Lady Thomas, Mr Aubrey Riley, The Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lee Gordon, The Master of The Guild Alec Turner, Lord Iliffe, Sir Edward Wilshaw and Mr Francis Sully, Master of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London.

The photograph (above) shows the President of the Guild, The Right Worshipful Mayor of Coventry, Alderman G Briggs J.P. and Mr Storer, with candidates for the Freemanship of Coventry at a Court of Admission in 1947. It is interesting to note that 3 of the candidates are in Army uniform and they would have been given special leave to attend. It was quite usual for apprentices to be called up to do their National Service the following month after finishing their apprenticeship The picture appeared in Guildsman No 3 June 1947.

This picture (above) was also taken from Guildsman No 3 June 1947 and shows the last Half-Yearly Meeting of the Freemen’s Charity at St Mary’s Hall in December 1946. The Trustees are on the dais (on the right) and the Freemen in attendance are seen on the left



This picture (above) was taken when the Coventry Guild revived the 16th century Ceremony of the Loving Cup. It was taken in the Council Chamber at the first Guild Admission Court when Councillor Harry Weston was Master of the Guild (1952-1954) seen on the left with the Mayor, Councillor B H Gardener drinking from the “London Loving Cup” and the Deputy Master L. F Yates on the right. The ceremony is still enacted today.

The actual Guild Admission Court (above) shows the 22 Freemen taking the Oath to become members of the City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild.



2 thoughts on “Origins of the Current City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild

  1. Hello – I’m writing with a heavy heart to notify you of the death of my beloved father (David Watkins) who became a Freeman of the City of Coventry on 02.12.58. He was so proud of his achievement and we in turn displayed the gorgeous scroll you presented to him at his funeral which took place last week. I just wondered what happens now, do you simply note your records or am I able to maintain his status in some capacity?

    • Dear Tracy
      I was very sad to hear about the loss of your beloved father David Watkins and I would like to convey my condolences on behalf of our President, Master and all the members of our Guild. I have sent an email to our Membership Secretary to find out if your father was a member of the Guild of Freemen or not. I see by your text that you displayed your fathers “Freeman of Coventry” Certificate at the funeral. We are all very proud to be made Freemen of the City of Coventry, which is an honour that you have to work for, by completing an apprenticeship within the “city boundaries”. It is an honour that cannot be purchased or obtained by family association, as practised in other cities throughout the UK.
      Freedom of the City of Coventry is bestowed upon an individual by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, who also holds the office of President of our Guild during their term of office as the Lord Mayor.
      Becoming a Freeman of Coventry does not automatically make you a member of the Guild, but we encourage all newly created Freemen to join the Guild at the earliest opportunity. Sadly, not all Freemen decide to join the Guild, even though it only costs a very small membership fee each year.
      Amongst the many benefits of becoming a member of the Guild is to receive our “Guildsman” magazine twice a year. In this magazine, as well as articles about the work we do and the events we hold, we honour the memory of our Guild members in an Obituaries section. If your father was a member of the Guild, then we will certainly honour his memory in this way. If the member has done special work within the Guild we always try to create a short life history about them, as an extra article in this magazine as well.
      If your father decided not to become a member of the Guild, then I would suggest that you contact the Lord Mayors Office at and inform the Lord Mayor of your father’s funeral. I am sure that she would be very pleased to hear that you had proudly displayed your fathers Certificate as a Freeman of the City of Coventry during his funeral. Also, could you please ensure that your father’s details, concerning his apprenticeship and the date of his admission as a Freeman of Coventry are fully recorded by the archivist at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
      Last night in St Mary’s Guildhall the Coventry Freemen’s Guild held a dinner to celebrate the achievements of 7 young men and women who were the finalists in our annual competition to become the Apprentice of the Year for 2014 (the dinner being held in the January of the following year). During the dinner, the Lord Mayor, Councillor Hazel Noonan, outlined the proud tradition of the Coventry Freemen’s Guild in encouraging and promoting all aspects of apprentice training schemes within Coventry. She went on to acknowledge the skill of the apprentices and the personal drive that inspires so many of them to make such a great success of their lives. It is an event that reminds us all how proud we all are to become Freemen of this City of Coventry by virtue of our own hard work, combined with the excellent training we receive.
      The Guild brings together all the Freemen of Coventry who choose to join our organisation and reinforces our unique history within the City itself. It also creates a group of ex-apprentice comrades who enjoy many outings and events together.
      I would like to thank you for sharing the feeling of pride that your father’s certificate as a Freeman of Coventry has brought you all. May his love be with you always.
      Very best wishes
      Steven Morson
      Senior Warden, Chamberlain and Web Master of the City of Coventry Freemen’s Guild

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