Elizabeth Bardolph has become the first “freeman” from the newly-formed Guild of Nurses to receive the freedom of the City of London.
The move represents the next stage for the new body, which was recently set up to support and enhance the standing of the profession.
“I feel privileged to be given the freedom of the City of London”
The Guild of Nurses is a membership body for nurses across the UK set up by a group who trained in the City of London, including former health minister Anne Milton.
The formation of the guild, a form of professional body that dates back to the Middle Ages, is the first stage towards nursing being recognised in an official City of London livery company, like the Worshipful Company of Grocers and the Worshipful Company of Drapers.
Ms Bardolph received the “freedom” last Thursday during a ceremony, which dates back to 1237, held in the Chamberlain’s Court Room of the Guildhall in London.
She was presented with a framed copy of the freedom document, together with a book entitled Rules for the Conduct of Life.
The ancient ceremony ended with Murray Craig, clerk to the Chamberlain’s Court, offering her the “right hand of fellowship” and greeting her as “a citizen of London”.
After the ceremony, Ms Bardolph said: “It was a very special and memorable occasion.
“I feel privileged to be given the freedom of the City of London and it is an honour to be a foundation freeman of the Guild of Nurses, which will leave a lasting legacy for all nurses around the country,” she added.
The granting of the freedom of the City is neither an award nor honour and can be obtained through right of patrimony, servitude or by redemption.
It has a long tradition dating back to mediaeval times when craftspeople formed trade guilds for the purposes of checking quality control and fair pricing, as well as looking after their members’ welfare.
Penalties were imposed on those who transgressed. In the City of London, the guilds became livery companies, so named because of the distinctive clothing or livery which each guild wore.
New guild of nurses given ‘freedom of London’
The Guild of Nurses was recognised by the Council of Alderman in February 2016 and is the first step towards the nursing profession joining the other noble professions represented in the Livery movement.
In order to regulate and control the livery companies, the City of London required that all liverymen be “free of the City”.
In return for their substantial fees, liverymen were exempted from paying market and bridge tolls and were permitted to have a say in the running of the City.
However, from 1800 the traditional ways of working became untenable, although the city retained the admission to the freedom of the city for liverymen. Since 1835, non-liverymen with an interest in the city are able to apply.
Although the freedom enables greater participation in the life of the city, it is not something that may be advertised or used for increased status or gain in any way.
Its appeal lies in being able to take part in and ensure the longevity of an established tradition.