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Looking to the future, lessons from the past - The Brewers' Company and COVID-19

As we all try to adjust to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the word “unprecedented” has become an everyday term.  But in the long history of the Brewers’ Company this is not the first time that our staff have had to contend with the closure of London due to the spread of a disease.  In July 1665 the Lord Mayor of London decreed that:

“All plays, bear-baitings, games, singing of ballads or suchlike assemblies of people be utterly prohibited … and all public feasting, particularly by the Companies of this City, be forborne till further order, and the money thereby spared be preserved and employed for the benefit and relief of the poor visited with the infection.”

Although it seems that even then it proved difficult to enforce this order, with Samuel Pepys noting in his diary:

“On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about.  Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!”

The disease was, of course, the bubonic plague and, while it left its mark on history, the Brewers’ Company survived to continue its work supporting the brewing industry and charitable causes, which we still carry out to this day.  We are lucky now that we have the technology and facilities to support our team as they work at home.  Today, the Brewers’ Hall team may be geographically scattered, but we are determined to continue to support our members and beneficiaries to the best of our ability and look forward to a return to business as usual in the coming months.