Merchant Taylors
 
  History

John Stow refers to the existence of "the Guild and Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, time out of mind called tailors and linen armourers of London" in 1300 - when "they chose Henry de Ryall to be their pilgrim". Here are the milestones in the Company's history:


14th Century

1327

Letters Patent of Edward III - Royal acceptance of the Guild by its first Charter.

1371

"The good men of the trade" of Tailors and Linen Armourers submitted an Ordinance for the approval of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to enable them to order and regulate their craft.

1390

Letters Patent of Richard II - authorising the Fraternity to give a livery garment and "to hold and keep in an honest manner the feast of meat and drink on St. John Baptist's Day."


15th Century

1408

Letters Patent of Henry IV - granting Incorporation of the Fraternity with powers of self government.

1428

Evidence of "search" on the Eve of Bartholomew Fair (1445 hallmark on the Clothyard).

1439

Letters Patent of Henry VI - empowering the Guild to make "full search within the City and suburbs".

1465

Letters Patent of Edward IV - confirming the right of search which the Corporation had challenged.

1481

First Grant of Arms - to the Fraternity of Tailors and Linen Armourers by Clarenceux King of Arms.

1484

Lord Mayor Billesden awards Merchant Taylors and Skinners priority in precendence in alternate years: This is known as the principle of "sixes and sevens".


16th Century

1503

Letters Patent of Henry VII - the Charter which first recognised the Guild under the name of Merchant Taylors.

1507

Ordinances for the government of the fraternity ratified.

1547

John Stow admitted after apprenticeship to the Freedom; and in receipt of a pension by 1579.

1565

Court of Assistants so named.

1566

Acquisition of the Mora estate (Moorfields) for the siting of racks or tenters in the making of cloth.

1572

Company required to provide 200 men for the defence of the City.

1586

Second Grant of Arms - to the Art or Mystery of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist.


17th Century

1607

King James I dines at the Hall; and 'God save the King' perhaps first played by Dr. John Bull.

1613

New Ordinances confirmed, which established the Oath to be sworn by new Liverymen.

1618

Irish Society grant an estate in Ulster to the Company, designated as "the manor of St John the Baptist".

1640

First barge built

1642

Return made to Lord Mayor of arms and ammunition held for the defence of the City.

1676

Festival of the Sons of the Clergy first held at the Hall.

1685

Letters Patent of Charles II: and surrender of Charters to the King in 1687.

1690

Letters Patent of William and Mary, repealing the "Quo Warranto" of 1684.


18th Century

1702

Hall rented by the East India Company; and in 1711 by the South Sea Company.

1719

Letters Patent of George I - the last and confirmatory Charter.

1727

Sale of the Irish Estates.

1751

Five Liverymen petitioned the Court of Aldermen unsuccessfully for the right of inspection of the Charters.

1786

£10,000 voted for the public service.


19th Century

1800

Last barge built (its sternboard on the wall of the Grand Staircase).

1802

Dinner in honour of William Pitt in the Hall; and subsequently the "Pitt Club" dinners.

1814

Alexander I of Russia and Frederick William III of Prussia dined in the Hall.

1837

Royal Commission on the Livery Companies.


20th Century

1972

Company's records put on microfilm and copies placed in Guildhall Library.

1982

Establishment of Merchant Taylors Catering Ltd to operate the commercial letting of Merchant Taylors' Hall facilities.

1984

Quincentenary of the Billesden Award.

1992

Ladies admitted to the Livery of the Company.

1996

Company's archives transferred to the Guildhall Library.


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  Education

16th Century

1512

Sir Stephen Jenyns (Merchant Taylor) founded Wolverhampton Grammar School, of which he made the Company the Trustees.

1555

Sir Thomas White (Merchant Taylor) founded St John's College, Oxford.

1561

Merchant Taylors' School founded in Suffolk Lane.

1576

Walter Fish endowed exhibitions for pupils at St John's College, Oxford.


17th Century

1617

Matthias Springham (Merchant Taylor) founded a free school in Londonderry (now Foyle and Londonderry College).

1620

John Harrison (Merchant Taylor) founded Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby.

1666

Merchant Taylors' School destroyed in Great Fire.

1674

Merchant Taylors' School rebuilt and extended on same site.

1681

Henry Colbron founded Merchant Taylors' School, Ashwell, Herts. (Further Education Centre from 1947)


18th Century

1733

William Stuart endowed scholarships for boys from Merchant Taylors' School at Pembroke College, Cambridge and at St John's College, Oxford.

1747

Bishop, John Andrew (Merchant Taylor) endowed scholarships for them at St. John's College, Oxford.

1759

The Revd. Charles Parkin (Merchant Taylor) endowed another such scholarship for them at Pembroke College, Cambridge.


19th Century

1864

Royal Commission on Public Schools included Merchant Taylors' School

1874

Merchant Taylors' School removed to Moor Park near Rickmansworth, Herts.


20th Century

1961

Art School opened at Merchant Taylors' School.

1967

Merchant Taylor's Educational Trust established as a general education trust, with specific powers relating to the operation of Merchant Taylors' School.

1975

Music school and biology laboratories added at Merchant Taylors' School.

1984

St John's Preparatory School, Pinner, purchased.

1994

Parkside Kindergartens at Pinner and Eastcote purchased (operated by St John's Preparatory School).

1996

Merchant Taylors' Educational Trust re-constituted as an autonomous Trust to advise Merchant Taylors' Company on educational policy generally and autonomous governing bodies of Merchant Taylors' School and St John's Preparatory School established.

1997

Merchant Taylors' School Ltd. And St John's School Ltd. incorporated.


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  Church and Charity

14th Century

1361

Admission granted for daily masses to a chapel on the north side of St. Paul's Cathedral in honour of St. John Baptist


15th Century

1405

Advowson of St. Martin Outwich (destroyed in 1875).

1414

Almshouses erected on east side of Hall.

1445

Papal Bull regularised use of Chapel at the Hall.

C. 1490

First herse cloth used for burials.


16th Century

1514

Will of James Wylford for a sermon in Holy Week.

C. 1520

Second herse cloth.

1547

Act of Suppression of Chantries affecting worship in the Chapel.

1578

Bishops' Bible first placed in the Hall.

1592

Almshouses transferred to Tower Hill.


17th Century

1605

Robert Dowe endowed a "passing-bell" at St Sepulchre without Newgate.

1615

Will of John Vernon for a memorial service before Christmas each year.

1683

Christopher Boone endowed almshouses at Lee, Lewisham, Kent.


18th Century

1767

Company's almshouses rebuilt on Tower Hill


19th Century

1825

Company's almshouses removed to Lee, S.E.13

1870

Convalescent Home opened in Bognor (closed in 1953).

1873

Advowson of St Helen Bishopgate.


20th Century

1903

Stow's monument in St Andrew Undershaft repaired.

1960

New Scheme for the Consolidated Charities.

1964

Boone's almshouses transferred to new site in Lee.

1968

Dowe House opened in Lee.

1970

Advowson of St Paul, Swanley, Kent.

1980

Archbishop Coggan House opened in Lee.

1996

Installation, re-dedication by The Lord Coggan, of new Merchant Taylors' Company commemorative window in St Helen's Church, following I.R.A. bomb damage.

1996

Establishment of the new combined Merchant Taylors' Company Livery and Freemen Fund for charitable purposes.

1997

Dowe House re-developed and re-opened as a Residential and Nursing Care Home operated by the Ranyard Memorial Trust.


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  History of the Hall

14th Century

1331

John de Yakeslee, a pavilion maker to King Edward III, acquired from Edmund Crepin a mansion, which is now the centre of the Hall site between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill.

1347

The property was transferred to Trustees for the Guild of Tailors and Linen Armourers.


15th Century

1400

The "Common Hall" of the Fraternity in use, on the foundations of which the present Livery Hall stands.

1405

Referred to as "Tailourshalle" when adjacent land to the east was acquired.

1406

Existence of Chapel and Crypt known.

1426

Great Kitchen in use.

1492

Reference to King's Chamber (on site of present Grand Staircase).


16th Century

1555

Chapel replaced by Bachelors' Chamber (used by the Yeoman Tailors).

1572

Garden laid out with bowling alley, terrace and flowerbeds ('Knottes').

1599

Lantern light visible on roof of Hall in Goodman's "Bird's eye View of the Parish of St Martin Outwich"


17th Century

1607

Window opened at west end of Hall in "King's Gallery".

1646

Redtile clay floor laid.

1666

Hall gutted by the Great Fire, and the west wing destroyed.

1675

Purbeck stone floor laid.

1681

Great Parlour - Grand Staircase - Drawing Room (new King's Chamber)


18th Century

1729

Hall panelled

1793

Major repairs to roof and walls of Hall; interior decorated in Gothic style; floor raised (previous levels can be inspected).


19th Century

1843

Western entrance made from Threadneedle Street to replace Courtyard access to Hall.

1853

Destruction of the third bay of the Crypt.

1857

Kitchen refurbishments.

1862

Ante-room (now Master's drawing room) constructed.

1864

Office staircase built.


20th Century

1940

Hall with both Galleries, Western Entrance, Grand Staircase and Parlour with the Drawing Room above destroyed by incendiary bombs.

1950

Reconstruction following bomb damage in 1940.

1996

New offices built.

1998-2003

Major refurbishment including lifts for wheelchair access.


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