Archiver > LONDON-COMPANYS > 2000-08 > 0965977690

From: Peter Wilson <>
Subject: [London-Companys] Alderman Carpenters
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 07:08:10 +0000
In-Reply-To: <>


A ³Master Carpenter² is referred to in a document dated 1271. This is
the earliest reference to the Guild or Fraternity of Carpenters. The
fraternity met in the Churches of St. Thomas of Acon and St. John the
Baptist of Holywell. The Carpenters¹ ³Boke of Ordinances,² written in 1333,
was moved to Guildhall in 1388 when King Richard II ordered that all guilds
make an accounting.
We find a sort of fraternal "union" in the book: ³it is ordained that if
any brother go idle for default of work and another brother have work
whereon he may work with his brother, and that work be such that his brother
can work it, then shall he work his brother before any other thing and give
him as another man would take of him for the same work.² At that time the
going wage was 6 pence per day during housing construction season and 5
pence per day the other six months.
The guild was incorporated in 1477. They controlled the London
construction business, and insured that standard lumber was used. Although
their hall escaped the fire of 1666, London was rebuilt in brick, and the
Carpenter¹s trade declined. Immediately after the fire the Carpenters
rented their hall to several Lord Mayors who were having their mansions
rebuilt, no doubt in brick.

Jurisdictional disputes with other trades and crafts, including
Woodmongers, Joiners, Sawyers and Bricklayers, persisted for centuries. In
1672 the Carpenters held ³that it was our trade and customary work ffully to
compleat and finish all that may be said to goe to the building, compleating
and finishing of houses or other edifices, both as to strength and ornament²
and complained that ³there were found some ingenious men who, to secure
their bodies from hard labour, took upon them to make moveable goods for
furnishing of houses, and thereby considering that the name Carpenter was
too gross a title for them whose employment was so weak that ... they
obtained a Patent to become a Guild and ... gave themselves two names, viz.:
Joyners and Cielers--Joyners as they made boxes and casketts and Ceilers (as
they pretended) for nailing up boards under roofes of houses and under some
ffloors, thereby to hinder the Plaisterers in their trade ... and now
thinking themselves famous by vertue of this their new names, they thought
there was more work to be done and more names to be got they fall to the
work and now call themselves Shop Joyners, House Joyners, Cabinett Makers,
Frame makers, Box Makers, Upholsterers etc., and now would faine be called
Carpenters to boot, in prosecution of which they have and doe thrust
themselves to doe much of the work belonging to the Carpenters¹ trade.²

These complaints about encroachments by other guildsmen must introduce a
note of caution for those who are trying to interpret early Virginia records
in which an ancestor is described as a ³carpenter². He could easily have
been a joiner, sawyer, bricklayer, or have practiced yet another craft in
his English home town.

Carpenters¹ Hall was built next to the city wall between Bishopsgate and
Moorgate. In 1456 the Hall was settling and 10 shillings were spent for
³underpinning the house and paving of the kitchen². In 1876 the old Hall was
demolished, and a new Hall built on part of the site by 1881. This Hall
was bombed in 1941 and rebuilt in 1960.
In 1619 Richard WYATT bequeathed land and funds for almshouses at
Godalming, which were completed in 1621. In 1841 more almshouses were built
at Twickenham. The almshouses were replaced with flats by the Borough in
1974. 1897 Sir Henry HARBEN, a Past Master, built the Rustington
Convalescent Home for ³persons of the working class². The home was closed
during WWII but reopened for men and women in 1948.
In 1769 the company used bequests to buy 70 acres at Stratford-by-Bow.
Evening classes in the crafts were offered there after 1891. By 1905 the
Trades Training School was established in Great Titchfield Street. After
1947 it was called the Building Crafts Training School. The Stratford
estate, except for a factory, was acquired by the Borough after WWII for
Carpenters also funded scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge. They also
collaborate with the a sister company in Philadelphia PA in an exchange
scholarship program for architects and builders.

Term............................Alderman Carpenter

1711-1718..................Sir J. CASS

1860-1897..................Sir J.C. LAWRENCE
1848-1855...................W. LAWRENCE
1855-1897.................Sir W. LARWRENCE (42 years)

1901-1906...................H.C. MORRIS

1875-1885...................G.S. NOTTAGE

1793-1807..................Sir W. STAINES

Valerie Hope, Clive Birch & Gilbert Torry, "The Freedom: Past and
Present of the Livery, Guilds and city of London" 1982, printed by Barracuda
Books, Buckingham, pp 118-119.
Rev. Alfred Beaven in "The Aldermen of the City of London," Published by
the Corporation of the City of London (printed by Eden Fisher, London, 1908
& 1912), v.1, p 352.

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