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.
The Turners of Medieval London
The turners of medieval London were a select but important group. They were responsible for making the official measures for both dry and wet goods as well as a wide range of household items and tools. Turners differed from other woodworking crafts because of the technique they used but in their everyday concerns and the provision they made for their soul after death they were typical of medieval craftsmen in London. The research for this paper was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Turners of London to investigate the life and social environment of turners in the period before the Company’s own records are extant.
Read the full paper by Doreen Leach, Royal Holloway, University of London here (PDF)
The Company is the successor of the Guild of Turners whose exact origins are unknown. Unlike the products of the potter, wooden objects are perishable, so the earliest date of turning is not known exactly. However, turned wooden bowls excavated from peat bogs at prehistoric levels show that the craft is certainly many thousands of years old. Read more …
1845 onwards saw a new spirit of revival, reform and usefulness appropriate to a new age. New men joined the Court of Assistants, many of them destined to make positive and striking contributions to the Company. Read more …
View the legal title of the Company. As laid down by its original Charter of 1604, this is for the Master, Wardens and Commonalty of the Mistery or Art of the Turners of London.
Read the text of the Royal Charter of 1604.