Worshipful Company of Leathersellers
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|Location||The Leathersellers' Co.,
21 Garlick Hill,
London EC4V 2AU
|Date of formation||1444|
|Company association||Leather industries|
|Order of precedence||15th|
|Master of company||Anthony Thornton QC|
|Motto||Soli Deo Honor et Gloria|
The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The organisation originates from the latter part of the fourteenth century and received its Royal Charter in 1444, and thereby is the senior leather industry-related City Livery Company.
The Company, which originally regulated leather merchants, continues to act as an advocate for the UK leather trade, together with its leather-associated livery partners: Cordwainers, Curriers, Girdlers, Glovers and Saddlers . Like all these other Companies, today it is primarily involved in philanthropic, charitable and educational activities.
The Company is very closely linked with the Leathersellers' Federation of Schools (formerly Prendergast School), now comprising Prendergast Hilly Fields College, Prendergast Ladywell Fields College and Prendergast Vale College, all located within the London Borough of Lewisham. Since the mid-seventeenth century the Company has also been closely associated with Colfe's School, today an independent co-educational school located at Lee, near Lewisham, London. In addition the Company supports and maintains its longstanding connection with the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (now a part of the University of Northampton), successor to the college which the Company founded at Bermondsey in 1909 as Leathersellers' Technical College. The Company continues to support higher education through exhibitions (grants) to university students, a practice which began in 1603 when four 'poor scholars', two at Oxford and two at Cambridge, were awarded five pounds and five shillings each per annum. Today around 100 students receive exhibitions which enable them to study at various universities.
Like many other Livery Companies, it has a long tradition of maintaining almshouses. The first almshouses run by the Company were built circa 1543-44, close to Leathersellers' Hall, on a site behind St Ethelburga's Church and housed seven elderly people. In 1837 the Company also built almshouses at Barnet in north London. These were extended in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1866 it was decided to close the almshouses in the City and remove the residents from there to join those already at Barnet. The Company still maintains almshouses in the London Borough of Barnet, now known as Leathersellers' Close, home to about 20 residents.
The Company has had six halls throughout its history, and is currently in temporary accommodation at Garlick Hill while its seventh hall is under construction. Its first hall was on London Wall but in 1543 the Company acquired the former Benedictine Convent of St Helen, off Bishopsgate, and the subsequent Halls have all been on that site, now St Helen's Place. The fifth Hall was destroyed in May 1941 during the London Blitz. The sixth Hall was officially opened in 1960 and was demolished in 2011, though the façade of the building has been saved. A new, seventh Hall, is being built at St Helen's Place to designs by Eric Parry RA, and will open in 2016.