SEP 00] HERITAGE OPEN DAYS FACTFILE
A Glimpse Of The World Of The Freemen
used to be able to graze cows on Hearsall Common, and their secret
world below St Mary’s Guildhall will be revealed this weekend.
City of Coventry’s Freemen’s Guild continues a tradition of
freemen stretching back 700 years.
direct successors of the members of the ancient powerful guilds meet
in a room under St Mary’s Guildhall, and it will be opened up this
Saturday as part of Heritage Open Days.
room, and the north end of the undercroft of the hall, has been the
headquarters of the modern Guild since 1956.
contains many artefacts, a 17th century sideboard, the Master’s
chair and old deeds of apprenticeship.
the guild harkens back to medieval days, the rules for qualification
for entry were updated 20 years ago.
who now serve a five-year apprenticeship in the city, or a shorter
period followed by a qualifying period of employment, can join up, and
the types of trade permitted has been made more general.
the city has grown over the years the qualifying area has been
extended to the city’s boundaries, or four-and-a-half miles from St
Mary’s Hall, whichever is the greater.
rights no longer exit for freemen, but they and their families still
get favourable treatment from city charities such as the Sir Thomas
White’s Education Foundation and Sir Thomas White’s Pension Fund.