Process and Benefits 

Those interested in becoming a Freeman can apply online, using the application for on the Company’s website at: or they may be identified and approached by existing Freemen of the Company.

The online application form is delivered directly to the Clerk to the Company, who will start the process for approval.  In other instances, once a potential Freeman is identified, they should be encouraged to apply using the online application or, alternatively, his/her name, email address and a brief background should be sent to the Clerk.  The Clerk will then send an email and application form inviting the individual to apply.  The person identifying the potential new Freeman may send the application form and notify the Clerk that they have done so.

Applications forms duly filled out (either online or emailed electronic copy) and with an attached brief biography will then be returned to the Clerk who will pass them to the Freedoms Advisors.  The Freedoms Advisors will check that the applicant is qualified against the criteria of Relevant Organisation and Relevant Location outlined above.

If the Freedoms Advisor indicates that the individual is qualified, his or her name and the bio will be passed to all Members of the Company and Freedom will be granted.  Any contentious cases may be delayed until they can be discussed at the next Company meeting.

The Freeman’s Recruitment Sub Committee will continue to identify any potential ”prospects” and use a database to follow up on applications.  This will help minimize any delay.

New Freemen will be invited to an induction Ceremony and lunch, hosted by the Master Cutler.


Annual Subscriptions and Benefits

Common Benefits. There are common benefits to all Freeman:

  1. Hall. You will also be able to bring visitors to the Hall and show them round what is a local gem if you wish to do so.
  2. Networking and Business Activity. You will be able to Company attend events where you can network with other Freemen and with Friends of the Company.  The Freeman’s Committee organise a number of subject specific events throughout the year, bringing in experts in a field to present and answer questions.  These are free of charge and often include a light and informal meal.
  3. Access to the Master. The Master Cutler has a unique a platform in that he has access to MPs, local politicians and decision makers and is frequently in London moving in circles of influence.  As a Freeman, you will be able to put your view forward to the Master Cutler.  This is normally done through the Chief Executive/Clerk to the Company.
  4. Sheffield. The name “Sheffield” is protected. Companies House will not allow Sheffield to be used in any Company name without a letter of non-objection from the Company of Cutlers.  Equally, we control the certification mark ‘Sheffield’ and are joint owners of the Made in Sheffield brand with the City Council and Chamber of Commerce.
  5. The Company. The Company has a unique position and is much envied by other cities and regions.  It is apolitical and has no agenda beyond helping manufacturing in the Region to grow and representing its wider interests.  It can therefore, through the Master, help coordinate activity, to lobby for the Region and to influence events both within and outside South Yorkshire.  Being a Freeman of the Company contributes to this.
  6. Status. Freedom of the Company of Cutlers is restricted.  Only those meeting the stipulated qualification criteria can be granted Freedom.




Meets the above criteria for location, role and relevant organisation.


£400 or £35 pcm Installation.  Invitation each year.  Free of charge.


Cutlers’ Feast.  Invitation in first year and at least every 2 x years thereafter.


Forfeit Feast.  Double ticket event each year with Freemen normally bringing their spouses, partners or associates.


Freemen’s Dinner.  Invitation each year for Freemen and their associates.


Freemen’s Social Dinner.  Invitation each year to Freemen and personal guests.


Freemen’s Luncheon.  Freemen and Friends are welcome to bring along family and other business or personal guests.


Specific Business Events.  Invitations to the MF Business Breakfasts and AMRC events.  In addition, the Freeman’s Committee organise several “themed” events each year.  These events are organised to address and discuss subjects of interest to the Company’s Freemen and follow informal formats.  They often include a light meal and are free of charge to attendees.


Buying Network.  The ability to join a buying network of Freemen to help reduce business costs.  This is being developed by the Company.


Access to Friends of the Company.  The Company has a network of Friends of the Company, who do not qualify to be Freemen but who provide professional services (lawyers, accountants etc.) that may be useful to a Freeman or their organisation.


MakeUK.  As part of a mutual agreement with MakeUK, all Freemen receive the business benefits associated with being an Affiliate Partner of MakeUK.


Livery Management System (LMS).   Access to the LMS and the wider network of Freemen and Friends.


Other Events.  There are other events during the year to which Freemen may be invited.


Associate Freeman:


Meets the criteria above for location and relevant organisation.


Does not yet meet the criteria for role, but are developing their career with a view of becoming senior leaders in manufacturing and engineering.


They would normally come from existing Freemen’s companies.



£250 or £22 pcm Installation.  Invitation each year.  Free of charge.


Freemen’s Dinner.  Invitation each year for Freemen and single guest.


Freemen’s Social Dinner.  Invitation each year to Freemen and limited personal guests.


Freemen’s Luncheon.  Freemen and Friends are welcome to bring along family and other business or personal guests.


Specific Business Events.  The Freeman’s Committee organise several “themed” events each year.  These events are organised to address and discuss subjects of interest to the Company’s Freemen and follow informal formats.  They often include a light meal and are free of charge to attendees.


Mentoring.  The opportunity to be mentored by fellow and more experienced Freemen depending on individual and business needs.


Livery Management System (LMS).   Access to the LMS and the wider network of Freemen and Friends.


Other Events.  There are other events during the year to which Freemen may be invited.

[1] Fees are reviewed annually and modest increases may be applied if required.


Potential Freeman

Should you come across potential Freemen, you should feel free to suggest that they apply for Freedom.

Contact Details

Contact in the Hall is:

Colonel Philip Bates MBA FIoD
Chief Executive and Clerk to the Company
The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire
Cutlers Hall
Church Street


T. 0114 272 8456

About The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire

Introduction.  The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was formed by act of Parliament in 1624.  It is in the DNA of Sheffield and South Yorkshire and association with it shows support for the City and our Region.  Its purpose is to promote and support manufacturing and engineering industry in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.  We have some 360 Freemen who are Owners, Directors and Senior Executives of manufacturing firms.  The Company also has up to 50 x Friends which includes those non-manufacturing businesses who are pre-eminent in their field.  Friends are usually corporate and provide professional services which the Company would be of benefit to our Freemen and their companies.

History.  The Company was formed by Act of Parliament in 1624.  Our nearest equivalents are the London Livery companies and “Merchant Companies” of York, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but none of them is established by Act of Parliament.

Purpose.  The purpose of the Company is to promote the interests of manufacturing industry in Hallamshire (this is an “S” Postcode) and all of South Yorkshire, through the public platform occupied by the Master Cutler.  You, as a Freemen, are part of the life blood of the Company and essential to this purpose.

Structure.  The Company (effectively the board) comprises of:

  • The board, known as the Company.
    • 33 Members by Statute comprising:
      • The Master Cutler.
      • Two Wardens. The Senior Warden is the next in line to be Master Cutler and the Junior Warden is next after that.
      • Six Searchers. (The origin of the Searchers was that they were originally tasked with seeking out and destroying substandard products).  Nowadays, the Searchers lead on the recruitment of new Freemen.
      • 24 Assistants. (Normally 15 Past Masters and 9 on the ladder to Mastership).
  • The Commonalty of the Company.
    • This is essentially the Freemen.
  • Friends.
    • Currently a maximum of 55 organizations or individuals who are not qualified for Freedom but who wish to be associated with the Company.  Friends are accepted if the business services that they provide are likely to be of interest and use to the Company’s Freemen.


Education.  The Company has long been involved in education, even at the time of its formation through trade apprenticeships.  Current involvement in education includes:

  1. The Cutlers’ Company Better Learners Better Workers Programme. The Company in collaboration with Sheffield City Council has introduced a programme to better equip young people with the workplace skills based on a skills framework supported by a programme of activities and work experience.
  2. Joint Education Awards. There are a range of awards:
  3. Apprentices/Undergraduates. Travel/study grants have been made, jointly with the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers to apprentices in the Region and to students at Sheffield Hallam University.
  4. Pontifex Awards. Named after a succession of Masters of the Armourers & Brasiers called Pontifex, this awards travel/study grants to young managers in manufacturing Industry.

Welfare/Charities.  Charities are run separately, but the Company effectively has five strings to its charitable bow:

  1. Cutlers Combined Charitable Trust (CCCT). This is for the relief of poverty and distress in South Yorkshire.
  2. Sir John Osborn Fund. This is a fund open to more general charitable giving but focused on Sheffield.
  3. South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF). Money was gifted by the Company to SYCF to open up a fund to encourage young people into manufacturing. This donates approximately £9,000 each year.
  4. The Cutlers Hall Preservation Trust. The prime function of this charity is to maintain the Hall its treasures and historical records, but it also contributes to the Joint Awards Scheme.
  5. Master Cutler’s Challenge. The Master Cutler runs a challenge each year to support a major charity in the Region.  Details of each year’s Master Cutler’s Challenge are publicised in Company literature and on the website.  It has also been agreed that a percentage of the money raised will be given to the Sir John Osborn Trust so that it can be redistributed to smaller charities.  These do not have the necessary resources to run the challenge and would otherwise miss out on what has become one of the major fundraising activities in this Region.


Promotion of Hallamshire (South Yorkshire).  These are prestige occasions, such as the Cutlers’ Feast and Forfeit Feast, Police and Fire Service Awards.  Also including the Master Cutler’s duties and engagements, in particular in the City of London.


The Hall.  The Company has a duty to maintain, preserve and enhance the Hall and its possessions, as a showpiece and asset for Hallamshire.  Repairs are funded by the Cutlers’ Hall Preservation Trust.


Forum for Manufacturing Industry.  The Manufacturing Forum (MF) and International Trade Forum are both managed from within the Cutlers Company on behalf of the Master Cutler.  In addition, the Company has a permanent seat on the Regional Mayor’s Business Advisory Board (BAB).


Catering and Hospitality.  In January 2015, the Company took the catering and hospitality operation in house.  This has been run successfully since.  The hospitality business is reviewed regularly and is overseen by the Catering and Hospitality Committee.  Freemen are encouraged to use the Hall for private and business events.  As a Freeman, you receive a 10% discount on any personal or business use of the Hall.


The Hallamshire Suite.  The Hallamshire Suite consists of 2 x meeting rooms and a smaller breakout room.  It is fitted with audio visual equipment and is ideal for small conferences, meetings of various sizes and more intimate dining occasions.  As a Freemen, the use of the suite is free of charge and you would pay for any catering or additional requirements.  It is booked through the Company office.


Events – Overview

Installation.  Contributing Freemen are invited to the installation of the Master Cutler every year.  This is on the first Tuesday in October and comprises a reception (normally combined with a Freemen’s Annual General Meeting), the installation ceremony, a church service and then a luncheon preceded by drinks.  It normally starts at 09h30 (AGM) and is complete by 14h30.

Cutlers’ Feast.  This is an Evening Dress (white tie) dinner held in May each year.  It is one of the premier social and business events of the year.  It is the occasion when the Senior Warden makes the principal speech allowing him/her to give an indication of the themes for his/her year as Master.

Forfeit Feast.  This takes place late in July.  Its unusual name comes from the fact that it used to be funded by forfeits, either from manufacturers who had broken the rules, or from Members of the Company who had not attended meetings.  This is a less formal affair with the dress being black tie (Dinner Jacket).  The principal guest is normally the Lord Mayor of the City of London.  It is a double ticket event with Freemen normally bringing their spouses or partners.  Freemen are invited every year on a first come first served basis, but they pay for their tickets.

Freemen’s Dinner.  This is held early in December and is an occasion when Freemen can invite business colleagues to the Hall to entertain them.  It is normally great fun with an opportunity to meet lots of other Freemen and Friends.

Freemen’s Social Dinner.  This is held in June annually.  It is a “black tie” dinner with spouses or partners but also allows Freemen to invite personal guests.

Freemen’s Luncheon.  This is normally held in March or early April.  It is an informal luncheon where Freemen and Friends are welcome to bring along family and other business or personal guests.

Cutlers’ Manufacturing Forum (MF) – 1st Tuesday Business Breakfasts.  These events are short, breakfast events, which aim to bring in guest speakers to present and lead discussion of business subject relevant to the Company’s Freemen.  As the name suggests, they are run on the first Tuesday of each month.

Cutelers Manufacturing Forum & Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Events.  The Company’s MF collaborates with the AMRC to deliver at least two larger events each year, open and free to all Freemen, on business subjects of interest and on new developments.

Golf Day.  There is a golf day in August or September when Freemen and Friends take part in a competition for trophies including a silver putter and a Ryder Cup plate.  Recently this has been held at the Hallamshire Golf Club.

Specific Business Events.  The Freeman’s Committee organise a number of “themed” events each year.  These events are organised to address and discuss subjects of interest to the Company’s Freemen and follow several informal formats.  They often include a light meal and are free of charge to attendees.

Other Events.  There are other events during the year to which Freemen may be invited.


Company Staff

Company Staff is small and comprises:

Chief Executive and Clerk to the Company. Colonel Philip Bates.  He oversees and runs all Company business, the Hall, the hospitality business, the charity groups and manages and is secretary to all of the working committees.

The Beadle. Mr Richard Vardy– the hall manager responsible for security and day to day maintenance.

The PA to the CEO. Mrs Michele Norman.  She runs the Company office and is the main point of contact for all Company business.

The Deputy Beadle. Mr David Birch, as his title suggests, he deputises for and assists the Beadle.

The Master’s PA and MiS. Ms Louise Webster manages the Master’s diary from the Company’s perspective and is responsible for the administration of MiS.

The Marketing and Hospitality Manager. Mr James Birch runs the Company’s Hospitality Business reporting to the CE/Clerk.

The Archivist. Dr Joan Unwin deals with historical aspects of the Company and also manages the website.

The Accountant. Mrs Sarah Illingworth manages all accounts including audit.  She is also the Office Business Manager.


Freemen’s Committee

A Freemen’s Committee was re-established in 2010.  It is intended as a means of ensuring that Freemen’s voices are heard within the Company.  The Current Chairman is Richard Gould of MetLase.   There are 11 other members including the Junior Warden and the Senior Searcher.  Issues can be raised through the Chief Executive.  Every Freeman is entitled to attend Freeman’s Committee Meetings as an observer and the Chairman welcomes those interested in joining the committee.

Website.  The Company has a website with an area dedicated to Freemen and Friends.  It is worth looking at it periodically.  The website includes a newsfeed element where events and activities are reported.

Livery Management System (LMS).  The Company manages its membership through LMS.  This is a tool that allows Freemen and Friends to keep their own information up to date, receive timely communications from the Company, see and book onto upcoming events, see Company news and use the “member directory” to contact other Freemen and Friends.

Newsletter.  A Newsletter is also produced and distributed quarterly.  If you are not receiving a copy, please let the Secretary know and they will ensure that you are added to the distribution list.