Amorial Bearings


The Company’s Armorial Bearings (on the top left of your screen) are of great antiquity and interest as they derive from the foundation of the ‘College of Arms’ in 1484.

The ancient stained glass window exhibited in the vestibule was removed in 1940 from the pre-‘Great Fire’ Church of St.Andrew Undershaft in Leadenhall Street and taken to Chedder Caves for safe storage. Having lain in obscurity for some 40 years it was eventually traced and resurrected in 1981 and is now on permanent loan to the Company.
It had been installed in the church during the re-building in the 1520’s and depicts the Company’s Shield dating back to 1461, when authorised in all likelihood by the Garter King-of-Arms whose office commenced under Henry V in 1415.
The window had been donated by the Bakers’ Company as benefactors of St.Andrew Undershaft and is of particular significance in that is shows the triple Crown of Pope Clement. Following the Reformation this was of course removed when the first recorded Grant of Arms (based on an earlier one) was made by Clarenceaux King-of-Arms in 1536.
Centuries later, by edict of the City Fathers in 1515, a notional order of precedence, based on their influence at that time, was fixed in perpetuity for all the City Livery Companies, ranking the Bakers’ Company as 19th out of nearly 100, which number of Companies has been reached again today.
The ‘farm’ or toll paid by the Bakers in the 12th Century was in effect a tax on bread which did, nevertheless, by its payment, absolve them from further tolls which were customary in the markets and fairs. Bread being the ‘staff of life’ it is natural that throughout the ages bakers have always been the most strictly controlled and regulated of all trades and the most important time in the life of the Bakers’ Guild commenced in 1266 with the enactment for many crafts of the ‘Assize Laws’ which were no doubt based on controls in Anglo-Saxon days.