The Worshipful Company of Poulters is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. In 1368, the Company received the power to regulate the sale of poultry, swans, pigeons, rabbits and small game. The Company, which was incorporated under a Royal Charter of Charles II on 13th June 1665, is no longer an association of tradesmen that retains its ancient powers, but now operates as a charitable institution as do most of the other Livery Companies.
The Poulters’ Company ranks thirty-fourth in the order of precedence of Livery Companies. Its motto is Remember Your Oath.
The Poulter’s Livery Hall was in Butcher Hall Lane from 1630 until the hall was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire of London. Today the Poulters Company generally use the Livery Hall of the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers in Coleman Street.
In 1274 the prices of 22 kinds of poultry were set by Royal Decree, indicating the importance of poultry in the food supply. By 1299 a livery had been established and was appointing Wardens for its governance. In 1364 the Company received its first ordinances (rules regulating the craft or trade) from the Lord Mayor. It is believed that these resulted from an order from the Court of Aldermen in 1364.
The earliest of its five charters was awarded in 1504 but unfortunately this has never been found and has to be ignored. The earliest charter in existence is that of 1665. The Company was listed as number 35 in a list of Livery Companies of London in 1516
At the funeral of Henry VIII, the Company was listed as 45th in order of precedence. At some time after 1560, the Worshipful Company of Poulters was listed as number 34 and there it has stayed to the present day.
The Company received the Charter of Charles II in 1665 which incorporated all those selling poultry wares within 7 miles of the City of London. This was confirmed by the Charter of William and Mary in 1692.
The Company received its Grant of Arms in 1634 on which the Master’s badge, left, is based. “Argent – on a chevron azure between three storks proper as many swans argent. Crest – on a mural coronet a stork with wings expanded proper. Supporters – two pelicans with wings addorsed, vulning their breast gules”.
The Company Hall
The Company does not have a hall of its own. During the seventeenth century ir rented two halls. The first was in Fenchurch Street and was vacated in 1630 when the Company leased a larger building in Butcher Hall Lane from Christ’s Hospital. This Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and was never rebuilt. A blue plaque in St Martin’s le Grande marks the site of the second hall.
From the end of the second world war the Company has held its Court meetings and luncheons in the Armourers’ Hall in Coleman St.
The Company Records
The Company possesses numerous records, including Wardens’ account books from 1620, Minute books from 1691 and Ordinances and Constitutions from 1537. These are held at the Guildhall Library and can be inspected there by prior appointment. A well documented history has been written by Past Master P E Jones.