Company director Rachel Wang becomes Freeman of the City of London
Sometimes the 1000 Londoners project takes us into the unseen areas of the city, sometimes it happens when we are least expecting it…
About 6 months ago now, I had just won Lead Entrepreneur of the Year at the Black British Business Awards so my name was featured in some newspaper articles. A lawyer called Nicola read about me and invited me to meet with some Members the Guild of Entrepreneurs. It turns out that I was being considered as a new member of one of the newer livery companies of the City of London which comprise London’s ancient and modern trade associations. As a documentary-maker and London-lover, I was intrigued to find out more, and after an informal interview process over drinks at a London club, I was invited to become a member of the guild, and to become a Freeman of the City.
The Freedom of the City is something that I’d heard about but never really researched. I discovered that it’s an honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. It comes from the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom. The tradition still lives on in London – although today the title of “freeman” confers no special privileges. Apparently in the olden days a Freeman would have been able to walk a sheep across London Bridge!
It was a great honour to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. The ceremony was a formal event at Guildhall, where I received a certificate and a smart brooch and was asked to pledge allegiance to the Queen and the Lord Mayor. I invited my family along for a lovely formal dinner where we sang ancient songs and performed traditional ceremonies including the Loving Cup ceremony. Now that ‘my word is my bond’, I always consider my words carefully!
I hope that over the next few months I may be able to make a film within one of the liveries for 1000 Londoners. It’s a fascinating world full of historical traditions that has to be featured in our 1000 films.
– Rachel Wang