The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has received the Freedom of the City of London in a ceremony at the historic Guildhall, London EC2 on Wednesday 7 September 2011.
The ceremony was at 12.00 noon and conducted by the Chamberlain of London, Christopher Bilsland. The Archbishop was nominated for the Freedom by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and by Miss Catherine McGuinness, a Common Councilman (elected member) of the City of London. Afterwards the Archbishop attended a celebratory lunch in his honourhosted by the Chamberlain.
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols said: “I am honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of London and would like to thank all those involved with in granting me this privilege.'
The Freedom of the City of London began in 1237
One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, the Freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237. Traditionally, it gave the recipients the freedom to earn money and own land – usually only bestowed to feudal lords. Today it is not an award but links recipients to London’s City as they pledge to “keep this city harmless”.
However, many of the so-called traditional privileges associated with the Freedom, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, being hanged with a silken rope, or being drunk and disorderly in the City of London without fear of arrest, no longer exist.
About Archbishop Vincent Nichols
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols was installed as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster on 21 May 2009 following the retirement of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. He was elected President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales by unanimous acclamation on 30 April 2009.
He received the Pallium in Rome from Pope Benedict XVI on 29 June 2009, the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul. He is patron of a number of Catholic charities in London including The Passage and the Cardinal Hume Centre.