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Craft and Trade Activities of the Carpenters' Company

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2812 E
Held at: Carpenters' Company
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Full title: Craft and Trade Activities of the Carpenters' Company
Date(s): 1890-2003
Level of description: Sub-fonds of the Carpenters' Company
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Extent: 6 volumes, 19 boxes
Name of creator(s): Carpenters' Company | Worshipful Company of Carpenters


Administrative/Biographical history:

The ordinances and charters of the Carpenters' Company gave the Court of Assistants power to regulate the carpentry trade by inspecting workshops and punishing carpenters who infringed Company regulations. The earliest references to the Company's regulation of the trade appear in the Court minute books (dating from 1533), and cases range from Company members employing "forrens" (carpenters from outside London), to the Court appointing "daysmen" and umpires to adjudicate where serious breaches of workmanship were claimed. The relationship between the Company and organisations representing related trades was also at times difficult, as craftsmen from other trades occasionally took on work reserved for carpenters. The seventeenth century in particular saw rivalries flourishing, and a lengthy and expensive legal dispute between the Carpenters' and Joiners' Companies concerning delimitation of their respective trades continued for over fifty years, until settled in 1672. In 1670 the Carpenters', Joiners' and Shipwrights' Companies all objected to the incorporation of the Sawyers, and the Guild did not establish itself beyond the preliminary stages.

From the 19th century the Company has worked to promote the carpentry trade, through the support of educational ventures and competitions. The Company's Building Crafts Training School was founded in 1893, and technical examinations, lectures and exhibitions on woodworking and joinery were regularly held at Carpenters' Hall. The Company also helped fund a joint School for Woodcarving with King's College, London under the auspices of Professor Banister Fletcher (Master of the Company in 1893). After the Second World War, interest in the technical examinations declined, and in 1955 the Company launched an annual Carpenters Craft competition "to encourage excellence in practical craftsmanship". A challenging set piece was offered and efforts made to attract high-quality applications from craftsmen in Great Britain and Australia. In 1972, the award was amalgamated with the competitions run by the Incorporated British Institute of Certified Carpenters, later the Institute of Carpenters, and continues today.

The Carpenters' Award was first presented in 1971, as 'an annual award for the very best work in joinery or other woodworking'. Run by Liveryman Terence Mallinson, the Company gave its support to raise the profile of the award and provided a venue for the award ceremony. In 2001 the awards were renamed the 'Timber Industry Awards', reflecting the increasing number of industry related sponsors, and in 2003 were re-launched and renamed the 'Wood Awards'. A Master Certificate Scheme was also launched in 2003 by the Company in conjunction with City & Guilds of London Institute, the Joiners & Ceilers' Company and the Institute of Carpenters. The Scheme awards the titles of Master Carpenter, Master Shopfitter and Master Joiner as part of a continued effort to raise and acknowledge the level of skill of craftsmen in the construction industry.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Carpenters' Company relating to the Company's powers to regulate, protect and promote the carpentry trade and craft, 1890-2003, (note that older records of these series, from 1588, are held at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts section, see Related material for details) comprising Education records, namely minutes of the Education Committee, covering general scholarships and education and trade related instruction, 1906-1993; minutes of the Exhibition Committee, 1904-1914; minutes of the Forestry Committee, 1902-1913 (funding for academic research); minutes of King's College and Carpenters' Company Joint Committee, 1890-1894; examinations register, 1946-1955, giving candidates for the Company's technical examinations;

records relating to promotion and competitions, namely Carpenters' Award, 1971-1999; Timber Industry Award, 2001; Wood Awards, 2003, comprising office files, 1969-1994; entries, 1991-2003, including photographs; records of the Carpenters' Craft Competition, 1955-1992, comprising correspondence and reports regarding the establishment of a competition and general procedures, 1955-1959, correspondence, reports, lists of applicants, plans of set pieces, posters and handbills relating to each competition, 1958-1969; minutes and correspondence relating to the amalgamation of the Carpenters' Company and IBICC competitions, with minutes of the Carpenters' Craft Competition Committee, 1972-1979; minutes and papers of the Carpenters' Craft Competition Committee, 1980-1992; plans of set piece for the Open and College categories, blank certificates, entry forms and posters, 1991-1992.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Access to the archives is at the discretion of the Company. The records are available for consultation by prior appointment only. Contact the Archivist, Carpenters Hall, Throgmorton Avenue, London EC2N 2JJ.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies of material can be supplied, subject to copyright restrictions and suitability of the item for copying.

Finding aids:

A catalogue is available. Access database of entries for the Carpenters' Award, later Timber Industry Award and Wood Awards, 1991-2001.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Created by the Carpenters' Company. Earlier registers of examinations were destroyed in the Second World War. Some records were transferred to the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Department in 1948.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records in the series held at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Aldermanbury, London, EC2P 2EJ: warrants for the apprehension of any carpenter within a four mile radius of London, who refuses to obey the orders and ordinances of the Company, 1676, 1701 (ref: 8333); list of defaulters, [1676] (ref: 8333(ii); Draft Act, [1605] (ref: 8334); licences to members of the Company for various building purposes, 1588-1600 (ref: 7783); papers relating to a dispute with the Joiners' Company, 1632-1672 (ref: 8332); accounts and ledger for the Company timber wharf at Whitefriars, 1624-1626 (ref: 4328, 4333).
See also section B: Court Papers 1600-32 (ref: 7784/1-15) for further licences and papers relating to regulation and oversight of trade; section A: papers relating to a dispute with Joiners' Company, 1630-1680 (ref: 4329a).
Minutes of the Joint Committee of Kings' College and Carpenters' Company, 1890-1912, held at King's College London College Archives (ref: KDEV/M).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Julie Tancell and Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997

Date(s) of descriptions:
December 2003

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