Freedom of the Company

Becoming a Freeman of the Company

The first stage of full membership of the Spectacle Makers is to become a Freeman of the Company. There are three routes to apply:

  1. By right. If you are qualified as an orthoptist, dispensing optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist or have passed WCSM examinations at Level 2 or above, you can apply to become a Freeman.
  2. By patrimony. If one of your parents was a Freeman of the Company before or at the time of your birth, you can apply to become a Freeman by patrimony.
  3. By recommendation. If you do not qualify under either of the above routes, you can still apply to become a Freeman, with the support of two existing Liverymen of the Company. The Clerk will be happy to make introductions for you.

You can download an application form in PDF format here: WCSM Application Form 2022

Please note that applications must be accompanied by a copy of your long-form birth certificate (showing the name, address and occupation of at least one parent), or an equivalent non-UK document.  Do not post original documents. Please also send copies of any other legal documents evidencing a change of name eg adoption or marriage certificate or deed poll. If you were born in the UK and cannot find your long form birth certificate, you can obtain a duplicate from this website:  https://www.gov.uk/register-birth/birth-certificates. If you were born outside the UK and need advice on acceptable documents, the Clerk will be happy to help. Call +44 (0) 207 236 2932.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to apply. Once your application has been approved, when you make your Declaration as a Freeman, you will be asked to pay £160. This gives at least one full year of membership and includes VAT and all initial administration costs.

Subscriptions are then renewed annually on 1 June.  By tradition, Freemen used to come to meetings to discuss business and pay their subscriptions to the Company in person on each of the Quarter Days (Lady Day, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas). For that reason, fees are still called “Quarterage” but members of the Company now pay just once a year, by direct debit, bank transfer or debit or credit card. 

For the year 1 June 2022-31 May 2023, the rates for quarterage will be £140 per year for Freemen and £375 per year for Liverymen.

At least 1 month’s notice is given of any increase in quarterage. If you do not pay your annual quarterage, your membership will end.

What happens to my form?

Application forms go forward to the Court for approval. The Court meets quarterly. The Clerk then contacts all those whose applications have been approved to invite them to be admitted to the Freedom formally, in a short ceremony. It is not enough just to sign a form. No-one is a Freeman of the Company until they make the Declaration in person, in the presence of the Clerk. The ceremony can be private, by appointment with the Clerk, at the Company’s offices, at a location convenient for you or online, by Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  There is also a public admission ceremony once a year when new Freemen are made particularly welcome.

The Declaration comes from the Company’s Book of Ordinances of 1630 and asks each new Freeman to confirm their obedience to the rules of the Crown, the City and the Company.

 

All new members receive a Certificate of Freedom of the Company, which will be needed to apply for Freedom of the City of London.

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