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Supporting Texprint: The Haberdashers’ Livery Company

7 September 2012 by TexSelect in Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Throughout six and a half centuries The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers has moved away from its historical involvement with the trade of haberdashery and developed into a significant supporter of schools and education in England and Wales.

The Company’s headquarters is the new Haberdashers’ Hall, opposite St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London. Built in 2002 around a gated quadrangle, it is reminiscent of a modern Oxbridge college. Here one of the Company’s Past Masters and Chairman of its Charities Committee George Pulman QC, and Alison Murdoch, Director of Charities, make life-changing and life-enhancing decisions for its beneficiaries who range from students of divinity to Texprint.


So when and how did the Company make this leap from trade body to charitable donor? Mr Pulman explains: “The history is long and complicated, but we are frightfully old. There is a haberdasher who travelled from Southwark to Canterbury with Geoffrey Chaucer and there are only three members of livery companies mentioned [in the Canterbury Tales] and the Haberdashers’ is one.”

The Company started the change towards education in 1594 when the Bunbury Aldersey Church of England Primary School in Cheshire was left to be under its governance. Mr Pulman continues: “Within the next 100 years three more foundations were started with Robert Aske, William Jones and William Adams leaving money in trust to the Company. So we have these separate funds, you can’t mix them.” Over the succeeding centuries various people gave money – often in their wills, sometimes during their lifetimes – to fund education and other good works.

The Company began when men involved in the trade of haberdashery in the City of London wanted to see it fairly run. “And after that the sons of haberdashers wanted to join as they could see it was good fun. But they weren’t always haberdashers and so gradually you had a lot of people who weren’t in the trade, became members of the Company,” says Mr Pulman. “And so we drifted into other purposes which were largely charitable but I think I’d be right in saying that our educational purposes have been greatly enhanced over the last 20 years or so, we have opened three brand new schools in the last few years.”

Texprint, is not a school, so, why does the Company choose to fund it? “We look for an association with our purposes, one of our purposes is the trade of haberdashery and so Texprint comes precisely within that,” answers Mr Pulman.

“There’s another link,” adds Mrs Murdoch, “Thomas Arno is a relatively recent benefactor of 1937. Some of the money he left to the Company was specifically for helping young people to start up in business. And of course Texprint falls into that category perfectly.”

With so many stipulations, it must increase the amount of administration you must do? Mrs Murdoch says: “It does but we sit down on a regular basis and we think about the strategy for the Company, for each particular committee in its field, and the Charities Committee also regularly reviews the focus areas that we want to concentrate on. We have limited resources, and we can’t give to everybody, however worthy the causes, and we’re limited by partly the Charity Commission schemes and partly by the fact that we want to do what the people who gave us the money to look after, asked us to do. They trusted us to do good things in that particular area.”

The Company also supports haberdashery-linked concerns at the Royal School of Needlework and City & Guilds. And each year the Company invites first year MA textiles students from the Royal College of Art to present their work at the hall. “Some of the students we award prizes to sometimes go on to be picked by Texprint, which is rewarding,” says Mrs Murdoch.

The Company’s involvement as a major sponsor ensures that Texprint can introduce each year’s selected 24 new graduate designers to the industry in London in July moving on to Paris in September. Mrs Murdoch says with a smile: “I do feel, Past Master, that the Director of Charities might be allowed to participate in the event in Paris…”

“I think you may need to be accompanied,” he replies, quickly.

“…by the Chairman of the Charities Committee!”

We hope to see you both in Paris and thank you and the Haberdashers’ Company for your continued support.

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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