800 years of History
One of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London, the Turners’ Company was already a guild in the 12th Century. Some 200 years later, Edward III decreed that ‘wooden measures, as well for wine as for ale’ should be made only by ‘turnours’ with marks of their own – and the medieval turners established the English ‘pint’ as an official measure. In 1604 the Company received its Royal Charter from James I. To this day the Company continues to celebrate and support the ‘art or mysterie’ of turning.
Celebrating the craft
Showcasing the best contemporary and traditional turning, the first Wizardry in Wood exhibition was held by the Company in 2004 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its Royal Charter.
Held every four years, these vibrant exhibitions, with the Company’s biennial turning competitions, play a significant role in promoting outstanding woodturning and introducing turners to a wider public. The next show will be held at Carpenters’ Hall, City of London, 12-15 October 2016.
City of London
Closely involved in the life of the City, the Company helps members develop their knowledge of the history of the City, its financial and commercial activities and those of the Corporation. In annual ceremonies held in Guildhall, two Sheriffs are elected by Liverymen of all the City Livery Companies, whilst the Liverymen and City Aldermen together elect the Lord Mayor. Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, Lord Mayor in 2013/14, was elected an Honorary Liveryman of the Turners’ Company in 2013.
Taking a leading role in the renaissance of the craft, the Company supports a range of educational, training and professional activities, often through the provision of lathes, tools and training on a long-term basis. Part of the programme is focused on schools caring for children with special needs. The Company provides bursaries for emerging turners, some working in creative hubs such as Cockpit Arts in London, and is collaborating in the development and promotion of new craft qualifications. The Company played a key role in establishing the Register of Professional Turners and works closely with the RPT and other turning organisations. The Company’s Charitable Trust supports City and other charitable organisations.
The social dimension
With an atmosphere of conviviality and fellowship, a wide range of social events – including a number of annual lunches and formal dinners in the City of London – are enjoyed by members of the Company and their guests.
Social activities take place monthly and have included curated visits to the Mary Rose and Kew Gardens; Evensong at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, a weekend woodturning course, organising a float for the Lord Mayor’s Show and a private tour backstage of the Royal Opera House.
The Turners adopted the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at its inception and it remains the predominant relationship with the Armed Services. The Turners’ Company Prize is awarded annually to the most outstanding Regular REME Battalion. There are also links with HMS Sultan, the home of the Defence School of Marine Engineering, and the RAF School of Technical Training at St Athan.
The structure of the Turners’ Company is similar to that of other Livery Companies. The governing body is the Court, comprising the Master who is the most senior member (representing the Company at City events and other outside functions), two Wardens and 18 Assistants, of whom nine are Past Masters.
Drawn from a range of professions, trades and crafts, members are men and women at all stages of their careers. Many work in the City or have done so. Members are encouraged to develop an active interest in the craft, whether through turning, collecting or supporting the Company’s educational and charitable activities.
Membership of the Turners’ Company is achieved by being appointed a Freeman. This is often followed by becoming a Freeman of the City of London and subsequent election as a Liveryman of the Company. The Clerk will be pleased to provide more information on the Company and the application process: email firstname.lastname@example.org.