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The Vintners' Company Charity Introduction


From their earliest days, charity and education have been principal elements in the role of the guilds and Livery Companies. One of the first charitable tasks undertaken by the early guilds was the care of their members in sickness and old age. By the early fifteenth century, the Vintners' Company had established "thirteen little mansions" on the site of the Hall, to be let to poor and needy men of the trade.

These were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and subsequently rebuilt at Mile End, where they were maintained until they too were destroyed during the Blitz in 1941. After the war, new homes were built at Nutley in Sussex.

In 1997 Nutley was sold and the funds raised were used to build bungalows at The Benevolent's ‘Vintry Homes’ site at Eastbourne. This was sold off by The Benevolent in 2013. So ended nearly 600 years of Vintner involvement in almshouses.


The Vintners' Company has for many years made grants to registered charities petitioning for its support, and the sale of the 'Vintry' site in 2013 coincided with a major re-focus of the Company's charitable objectives. The Company took the decision to move away from its former strategy for grant-giving, of supporting charities purely concerned with the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. The focus is now more strongly on charities dealing with the social consequences of alcohol abuse – a subtle but important distinction, which embraces the families and dependants of abusers, as well as education to prevent youngsters from falling into the trap of alcohol misuse in the first place. 

The beneficial area of the Company's grant giving nevertheless remains Greater London, and preferably Inner London. The Company's limited resources do not allow a wider or more generous approach. In addition the Company has never been keen to support medical research, or the construction, maintenance or restoration of buildings. These restrictions have been in place for many years, to try and increase the impact of those grants which the Company is able to afford. 

The Company also now seeks to support fewer charities, but to a greater extent, with larger grants and over a longer period of time, i.e. two or three years or more. This allows continuity – something which is especially important to smaller charities as they make their long-term plans. We tend to look more favourably on smaller, local charities, which often struggle to find support, rather than on those which are larger, well-known, nationally focused and therefore generally better supported.

Additionally, the charities selected will be able to offer opportunities for members of the Vintners’ Company to become involved and assist as part-time volunteers. This can be anything from providing general assistance to being a trustee, or providing expert assistance in a specialist field such as marketing, legal advice or accountancy. 

More details of the current selected charities may be found in the 'OUR SUPPORTED CHARITIES' section by clicking HERE

In addition to this change of grant-giving strategy, the Company still continues to support the wine trade, and also some 20 regular causes and charities ranging across education, the Church, the Services, swans, and the City, together with members’ own requests. 

We also continue to run one-off charitable fundraising events. The Beaune Walk in June 2013 raised £50,000 for The Benevolent. The Walk on the South Downs in May 2015 raised £8,000 for the Vintners' Foundation. The "City to Surf" bike ride on 28th-30th June 2015, from Vintners' Hall to Newquay, raised over £55,000 for the Vintners' Foundation and the Lord Mayor's Appeal. 

The Company’s principal charitable vehicle is THE VINTNERS' FOUNDATION.

The Vintners' Foundation services the Company's current policy for charitable giving, which is:

  • Assistance to charities concerned with the relief of the poor, destitute and homeless in Greater London who are disadvantaged by reasons of health, education or poverty
  • Assistance to charities concerned with treating the social effects of alcohol
  • Support to young people, youth projects and designated educational establishments in London
  • Support to certain other charities, as put forward by members of the Company.

Income to the Vintners’ Foundation is derived from three principal sources: capital funding from the Company (36%), investment income (49%) and members’ donations (15%).  

The Vintners' Foundation incorporates two older Trusts: Vintners' Gifts Charity, and the Vintners' Company Charitable Foundation (VCCF).  While the VCCF has been entirely subsumed into the Vintners’ Foundation, the objective of the Vintners’ Gifts Charity remains the relief of persons in need in the following order of priority.

  • Members of the Vintners’ Company and their dependants
  • Persons now or formerly engaged in the wine trade/spirits trade and their dependants
  • Such other persons in need of assistance as the Company shall in its absolute discretion think fit.

Members of the Company are encouraged and expected to give regularly to the Vintners’ Foundation.  This can be done quickly and easily by clicking on the following link: DONATE ONLINE


For a list of grants made since 2011 please click HERE 


Although much of the Company's grant giving is now directed to its current selected charities, some limited funds are still available for new petitions, which are also an essential mechanism for bringing potential new selected charities to the notice of the Company. Applicants should bear in mind the following: 

  • applications are encouraged from registered charities concerned with alleviating the social effects of alcohol abuse/misuse within Greater London, and preferably Inner London. Applications from national charities will therefore need to be ring-fenced to Greater London and preferably Inner London
  • applications are not normally entertained which relate to the rest of the UK or overseas, or which relate to the restoration of buildings or to medical research
  • there is no application form. Applicants have a free hand to state their case, preferably in not more than three sides of A4
  • applications for specific projects are much preferred. The Committee is unwilling to support general running costs
  • all applications should include a breakdown of the budget for the proposed project, together with the charity's most recent audited accounts
  • applications should be made by email, with attachments, to Stephen Freeth, Archivist and Charities Secretary, Vintners' Hall, Upper Thames Street, London EC4V 3BG (email: All agenda papers for the Vintners' Foundation Committee are now circulated electronically, and hard copy petitions are unhelpful. 
  • documents sent as attachments should be on the headed notepaper of the charity
  • grants are normally made in the range £3-5,000
  • the Committee meets four times a year, usually in March, June, September and December. Petitions which are too late for the next meeting will be postponed to the one after that


More information specific to members of the Company can be found in the Members' Resources Area under 'Charity'.


‘Lent Halls’ are the loan of the Company’s Hall at no charge to outside charities, for the purpose of holding a fundraising event, usually a dinner, but sometimes a lunch, quiz night or Hall tour.  For a list of charities which have been provided with this facility since 2009, and for further guidance, please click HERE.  Charities wishing to use this facility should contact the General Manager (email:


This trust provides support for the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton, Middlesex and Swan Lifeline at Eton, Berkshire.

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