Beekeeping has become quite trendy around London now and the City has caught onto this. It fills many companies' CSR and at the same time adds interest and a talking point. Indeed, if you’re a valued client of Nomura, you may receive a jar of honey as a present.
Around the City you’ll find a hive or two on top of the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square as well as the Mansion House. I wonder if the Lord Mayor enjoys a dollop of honey on his toast in the morning? Today I had the pleasure of taking round some German students from Bavaria, some of whom are beekeepers.
I naturally had to include a couple of spots along the way! Sadly the Guildhall was closed that day, but if you go and see the monument to William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham, you’ll notice a beehive on John Bell’s sculpture. It’s a sign of industry. There was better success at the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers in Gresham Street.
Their hall, the 5th one on the site, has a plaque of a beehive above the door. It’s made from Coade stone and came from the previous 1791 hall. This medieval guild was once responsible for providing beeswax candles for churches - they still give candles to St Paul’s Cathedral. In the Middle Ages they were also responsible for embalming.
Their heyday was in the 15th century, thanks to the rise in chantry chapels, where priests would pray for the souls of prominent people. Richard III granted their charter in 1484 (his only one), and when the King in the Car Park was reinterred in Leicester Cathedral in March the Wax Chandlers provided the candles for the service.
Nowadays the livery company still maintain connections: they sponsor the National Honey Show and are members of the British Bee Keepers’ Association. They’re even having a hive installed soon! And where to end the walk? Why naturally in Honey Lane, off Cheapside!