The Guilds

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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The Clothier's Company of Worcester was in existance in the 13th century, and was subsequently incorporated by Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth. The later charter was dated 23rd September, 1590. The Company consisted of weavers, walkers and clothiers - a walker being a fuller, and the process of fulling being performed by walking over the cloth. Leyland, the historian at the time of Henry VIII wrote: 'the wealth of the towne of Worcester standeth by draperinge, and no towne in England at this present tyme maketh so many cloaths yearly as this towne doth'. At its height the City had 380 looms, and the industry gave employment to 8,000 persons, but at the time of Queen Elizabeth's visit the number was reduced by one half. In 1671, it was said, 'the citizens and inhabitants for the greatest part are united into guilds, fraternities, and brotherhoods'. Green mentions no less than 18 crafts or guilds existing, and of these the Clothiers were the most important and influential, and continued with an unbroken succession of masters and officers under the Charter of Elizabeth 1. Two Weavers, Walkers and Clothiers Company is the only guild now remaining incorporate of all the Worcester City Companies, but it is merely a trusteeship for the administration of charitable funds, and is in no way connected with trading pursuits.