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The Worshipful  Company Of Drapers

The Worshipful Company of Drapers is one of the 110 livery companies of the City of London. It has the formal name: The Master and Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London. More usually known simply as the Drapers' Company, it is one of the historic Great Twelve Livery Companies and was founded during the Middle Ages.

An informal association of drapers had organized as early as 1180, and the first (Lord) Mayor of London in 1189, Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonestone, was believed to have been a Draper. The organisation was formally founded in 1361; it received a Royal Charter three years later. It was incorporated as a company under a Royal Charter in 1438 and was the first corporate body to be granted a coat of arms. The charter gave the company perpetual succession and a common seal. Over the centuries the original privileges granted by Royal Charter have been confirmed and amended by successive monarchs. The acting charter of today is that granted by James I in 1607, amended by four supplemental charters, most recently in 2008.

The brotherhood of drapers, a religious fraternity attached to the church of St Mary Bethlehem inBishopsgate, was founded in honour of the Virgin Mary by "good people Drapers of Cornhill and other good men and women" for the amendment of their lives The majority of drapers lived in and around Cornhill, Candlewick Street (now Cannon Street) and Chepe (Cheapside). Possibly it was for this reason that their allegiance was transferred to St Mary le Bow in Cheapside and later to St Michael, Cornhill, where the company continues to worship today. Despite these changes, the drapers retain the Blessed Virgin Mary as their patron saint.

Originally, the organisation was a trade association of wool and cloth merchants. It has been one of the most powerful companies in London politics. Over one hundred Lord Mayors have been members of the company; the first, Henry Fitz-Ailwyn, is thought to have been a draper. During the Plantation of Ulster, the company held land around Moneymore and Draperstown in County Londonderry.

Amongst the royalty who have been members of the company, four had not been expected to become a monarch at the time of their birth but were later crowned:

Other well-known members have included Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, Sir Francis Drake, Admiral Lord Nelson and Grinling Gibbons.

HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, HM King Harald V of Norway, HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, Admiral Lord Boyce, and Lady Victoria Leatham (who was elected the first female Master of the company in 2012) are among the many distinguished current members of the company.

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