About the City

Matthew Richardson

The City of London has a unique political status, a legacy of its uninterrupted integrity as a corporate city since the Anglo-Saxon period and its singular relationship with the Crown. Historically its system of government was not unusual, but it was not reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835 and little changed by later reforms.

It is administered by the City of London Corporation, headed by the Lord Mayor of London (not the same as the more recently created position of Mayor of London), which is responsible for a number of functions and owns a number of locations beyond the City’s boundaries. Unlike other modern-day English local authorities, the Corporation has two council bodies: the now largely-ceremonial Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council. The Court of Aldermen represents the wards, with each ward (irrespective of their size) returning one Alderman. The Chief Executive of the administrative side of the Corporation holds the ancient office of Town Clerk of London.

The City is a ceremonial county, although it has a Commission of Lieutenancy, headed by the Lord Mayor, instead of a Lord-Lieutenant. The City also has (instead of a High Sherifftwo Sheriffs, which are quasi-judicial offices and who are appointed by theLivery Companies, another ancient political system (based on the representation and protection of trades) still extant in the City. Senior members of the Livery Companies are known as Liverymen and form a special electorate called the Common Hall — this body chooses the Lord Mayor of the City, the Sheriffs and certain other officers.