The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers has completed an ancient custom by presenting bushels of fruit to the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
Master Fruiterer David Simmons led a small contingent of six Fruiterers – including the Clerk, the Beadle and the Fruit Porter – to undertake the Ceremony of Presentation of Fruit to William Russell in line with prevailing Covid-19 guidelines.
In days gone by the Lord Mayor exercised his privilege of levying a tax in the form of samples of fruit brought into the City of London.
The custom worked smoothly enough so long as London remained at a moderate size, but as the City grew so did the volume of fruit.
Thus, the burden of the levy became too much to bear; friction arose and the enforcement of the mayoral rights led to disputes and there were many bitter quarrels.
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and the genius of both parties employing compromise as a solvent for troublesome situations came to the rescue.
The Fruiterers’ Company undertook to pay an annual tribute of not more than twelve bushels of fruit to the Lord Mayor in return for a surrender of his Lordship’s right to exact a toll on all supplies sent to the market.
These days, the fruit becomes part of the Fruit Gifting Programme, whereby, in line with the Fruiterers’ charitable objectives, the Company provides regular deliveries of fruit to the hostels and refuges in and around the City of London.
Master Simmons said: “The Fruiterers Company is extremely pleased that with careful planning and adherence to social distancing, we have been able to uphold this ancient tradition, signifying the enduring importance of the fruit trades and our ongoing support for the Lord Mayor, the Livery and charitable giving within the City of London.”