Armed Forces - catering
The City of London’s relationship with soldiers of the Crown goes back to the 14th Century defence of Berwick-on-Tweed against the Scots, when the City supplied 120 men with equipment. Against the French in the 1340s, it was money from the Guilds that the Crown demanded in order to support the military campaign. In 1536, bowmen were raised from Livery Companies against a march by the ‘men of the North’, and, in 1538, Sir Thomas Gresham enacted through Parliament that Liveries should ‘harness’ men and weapons. In 1595, during the reign of Elizabeth I and at the time of British maritime supremacy, one Cook - Owen Saintpire - was imprisoned for failing to pay contribution to ships. During the Civil War of the 1640s, the City as a whole was found defending the winning side - Parliament. By 1678, nearly one third of the Cooks Company’s annual expenditure was spent on support to military affairs. By 1779 we were at war with Spain, to which all Livery Companies were required to provide men; these same men were then found saving the City during the Gordon Riots of 1780. The Boer War saw the Company presented with the Silver South African War Medal for its contribution of men to the City of London Imperial Volunteers regiment. During the first and second World Wars, members of the Company served in, by now, all three of the Armed Services with many lives lost. The Cold War saw a settling down of international relations, across Europe at least, together with settled and formal relationships with each of the Armed Services - the Army in 1975, and then both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in 1981.
Today, we continue to enjoy a very strong and warm relationship with all three Armed Services’ catering branches, who have themselves now been amalgamated into a single Defence Food Services organisation. In particular, we support their annual catering exercise - the Combined Services Culinary Challenge - so that they might put forward their best cooks to further international culinary competitions.