to The Guild of Scholars of the City of London
The Worshipful Company of Drapers
The Worshipful Company of Drapers rank third in the Livery Companies of the City of London. The full title of the Drapers’ Company is "The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London". The word Mystery comes from the Latin “misterium” meaning professional skill. The first royal charter granted to the Drapers is dated 1364 and the first ordinances cite a date of 1361 for the fraternity’s foundation, although an informal association of drapers undoubtedly existed as early as 1180.
A Brotherhood of Drapers, a religious fraternity attached to the church of St. Mary Bethlehem in Bishopsgate, is also known to have existed in the 1360s. It was founded in honour of St. Mary by ‘good people Drapers of Cornhill and other good men and women’ for the amendment of their lives. The location of St. Mary can hardly have been convenient for the majority of Drapers who lived in and around Cornhill, Candlewick Street (now Cannon Street) and Chepe (Cheapside). Possibly it was for this reason that allegiance was transferred to St. Mary le Bow in Cheapside and later to St. Michael’s Cornhill, where the Company continues to worship today. Despite these changes, the Drapers have retained the Blessed Virgin Mary as patron saint. In 1438 the guild received its Charter of Incorporation recognizing the Drapers as a legal corporate fraternity, a Company which has perpetual succession and a Common seal. Over the centuries the original privileges granted by Royal Charter have been confirmed and amended by successive monarchs. The acting Charter of today is that granted by James I in 1607, amended by four Supplemental Charters, most recently in 2008. From its origins as a medieval guild, the Drapers’ Company today has wide ranging interests and responsibilities: it administers charitable trusts relating to relief of need, education and almshouses; it provides banqueting and catering services; and it fosters its heritage and traditions of good fellowship. Every Freeman is eligible to be considered for Call to the Livery by the Election Committee when they have attained the age of 30 years and have been Free of the Company for at least two years. Whereas the size of the Freedom is not restricted, that of the Livery is limited to 300. Thus there are always likely to be more candidates than there are vacant places on the Livery.