“It’s remarkable, I’m still surprised. I wasn’t quite sure if they’d got the right person so I’m very happy to be here. It’s a rare occasion.” – Damian Lewis upon receiving Freedom of the City of London honor
Did you know that Damian Lewis received the Freedom of the City of London honour at London’s Guildhall in recognition of his achievements as an actor in March 2013?
Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditions still in existence today. It is believed that the first Freedom was granted in 1237. According to Wikipedia, being a “free man” in old times came with certain privileges, varying from the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge to carrying a naked sword in public.
BBC reports that Damian mourns these “privileges” are today effectively symbolic:
“I’ve got a flock in my garden in Tufnell Park but I wasn’t allowed to bring them down.”
Just for your information, Damian, in case you fancy a walk with your flock over the London Bridge — ask Stephen Fry who has liberally used his privileges!
Even though he was not allowed to bring along his flock from Tufnell Park, Damian seems quite happy about being recognized as a free man of London 🙂
“It’s the most extraordinary honour to be offered the Freedom of the City of London – the city that I have grown up in, and love, more than any other. I’m very, very proud to be associated with it.”
Here is Damian talking very graciously about the Freedom of the City of London honor.
“Four previous lord mayors were related to me – my great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather and a great-uncle, and my grandfather. They started out as girdlers. They’d probably be making Spanx now if they were around today.”
“My grandfather was a Haberdasher, one of the Great Twelve Guilds, and I trained at Guildhall in the Square Mile. For over 700 years, merchants, financiers and actors – to name but a few – have lived and worked here ‘cheek by jowl’ and this illustrates just what diversity there is in the City of London. I’m very, very proud to be associated with it, and to be recognised in this way.”
Freedom of the City of London today is a recognition of lifetime achievement or international standing. And, it may be completely symbolic in terms of the privileges provided, BUT it should feel great to receive such an honor from “your city” which you think is the “greatest city in the world!”
For more information on Freedom of the City of London tradition and ceremony, please check the City of London webpage here. You can also see more pictures from the event in our gallery at damian-lewis.com