A peculiar and pleasing feature of Banquets and Dinners of the Livery Companies is that of the Loving Cup. This cup is generally of gold, silver, or silver-gilt, and filled with what has been called from time immemorial "Sack", another name for spiced wine.
At the conclusion of the dinner and immediately after grace has been sung or said, the Cup is passed round the table, the toastmaster announcing "The Prime Warden bids you all a hearty welcome, and drinks to you in a Loving Cup."
The Prime Warden drinks first and each guest in turn, applying his napkin to the rim of the Cup after having sipped the wine before handing it over to his neighbour. Those not wishing to drink may pass the cup on with a short bow.
The practice is for the person who pledges the Loving Cup to stand up and bow to his neighbour who, also standing, removes the cover with his right hand and holds it while the other drinks, a custom said to have originated in the necessary precaution of keeping the right hand or "dagger" hand employed, so the person who drinks may be assured of no treachery like that practised by Elfrida on the unsuspecting King Edward the Martyr at Corfe Castle, who was slain while drinking. This is why the Loving Cup possesses a cover.