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Worshipful Company of Cordwainers

What is a Cordwainer?

Cordwainers are shoemakers who practised their trade for centuries within the walls of the City of London.

During the medieval period, craftsmen formed guilds to regulate their trades and to protect the quality of their wares. The guilds trained apprentices and supported their members through good times and bad.

Granted charters by successive monarchs, Cordwainers were licensed to trade within a particular area, known then, as now, as the Ward of Cordwainer – in fact, we are the only livery company to share our name with a ward of the City.

Like many livery companies, the Cordwainers had an official home, a grand hall that bordered St Paul’s Churchyard. One was destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666, and the last was damaged beyond repair in the Blitz in 1941. All that remains is a plaque to mark the spot.

The livery companies helped make London rich, but they also left a remarkable legacy of charitable giving, which continues to this day.

What we do

The Cordwainers have a strong charitable ethos. Our primary charitable focus is to nurture young talent in the fashion and shoemaking industries.

We achieve this by providing scholarships, bursaries and prizes to outstanding students at a number of Universities and colleges. In doing this we continue to promote the profile of shoe education and industry in the UK.

Our commitment to modern fashion can be seen through some of our most recent members, such as Jimmy Choo and L.K. Bennett, as well as our strong association with the London College of Fashion, arguably the world’s best training ground for shoe design students.

We assist a number of other charities with which the Cordwainers have strong historical ties. We also play a significant part in the governance of the City of London.

The Cordwainers’ philanthropy is financed through our property and business activities, together with generous donations from past and present members. You can read about the most recent fund-raising activities in the News & Events section.

The Company today

We have approximately 240 members, of which about 170 are Liverymen.

The Company is governed by an elected Master and four Wardens, as well as the Court of Assistants, which is a permanent body of senior Liverymen. They are assisted by the Company Clerk.

The Company elects a new Master and Wardens every summer at the Oath Day ceremony, when the new Master’s year of office begins. The officers for 2016–17 are:
Master Jeremy Blanford
Senior Warden Patrick Peal
Second Warden Jonathan Hooper
Steward Warden Peter Lamble
Renter Warden Judith Millidge

Wardens-2016

A guide to the Cordwainers’ Company

Click here to download a short brochure about the Cordwainers.

Guide to the Company

Company history

2020 Vision

The Court has agreed a new vision and strategy for the Company: the Cordwainers’ 2020 Vision. This sets out what the Company will focus on, so that it is well positioned for its 750th Anniversary in 2022, and can move on strongly beyond that.

Four simple aims will take us and our associated charities to a better place, and make our Company stronger.

Participation Increase further the participation and involvement of all Liverymen and Freemen in the Company’s social, charitable and governance activities.

Charity Double the amount given by Cordwainers’ charities to targeted external charity beneficiaries from 2012 levels.

Profile Increase the profile of the Company both internally amongst members, and externally in the footwear trade, in the City, and amongst our charitable and business partners.

Growth Progressively increase the financial strength of the Company so that we are able to consider acquiring our own home (not hall).

Membership

Membership of the Cordwainers consolidates links between those who play an active role in fashion and footwear, and members of the families who have been historically associated with these industries for generations.

Members of the Company who gain promotion to the Livery and become members of the Court play an active role in the Company. They actively contribute to our overriding function – to manage and distribute the Company’s assets for charitable purposes.

There are two ways to become a member of the Cordwainers: by Patrimony or by Redemption.

By Patrimony

Open to sons and daughters of Freemen and Freewomen over the age of 21, of legitimate status, born after that parent became a Freeman of the Company.

The fee for admission by Patrimony is £250.

By Redemption

This category applies to:

  • children who were born before their parent became a Freeman of the Company.
  • grandchildren whose grandparent was a Freeman of the Company.
  • by invitation only, those connected with the Company who have excelled in some way, for example by serving as a Trustee of one of the Cordwainer charities.
  • by invitation only, anyone who has no immediate connection with the Company but has excelled in the fashion and footwear trade.

The fee for admission by Redemption is £500.