To serve the City, satisfy the Crown and regulate their trade, the Carmen organised themselves and thus began the Worshipful Company of Carmen.
On 19 March 1517, during the reign of Henry VIII, they formed the Fraternity of Saint Catherine the Virgin and Martyr of Carters. Catherine of Alexandria was adopted as the Carmen's patron saint since, by legend, she met her end broken on the wheel. Thus the cartwheel became her symbol.
The City granted Carmen the right of fellowship, but not of regulation, so the City still ruled.
Licensed Carmen held standings or ‘carrooms’, where they plied for hire, as did the Woodmongers. This is where an historic rivalry began - with the latter often in the ascendant.
The dispute had its origins in the demarcation between general cartage and the thriving trade in fuel. Then Carmen broke free, with the start of an on-off relationship with Christ's Hospital. In 1605, the Woodmongers formed a Company to regulate Carmen. A joint Charter emerged on 16 August 1605, the Carmen's first.
The 1605 Royal Charter
In 1668, the Fellowship of Carmen was authorised, and by 1746, the Woodmongers had faded away. The 18th century brought growth and prosperity, but the 19th was fraught with problems. The City took over, and in 1848 made its only grant of livery in Queen Victoria's reign - to the Carmen.
The modern era dawned in 1926, when the Worshipful Company of Carmen received a grant of arms, followed on 26 June 1946 by a new Royal Charter, amended with a Supplementary Charter in 2005.
The Carmen’s trade is as old as civilisation and will endure as long as civilisation lasts.
click the wheel for more on the Carmen's story (pdf)