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.