Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery

About the Bowyers

The Worshipful Company of Bowyers is one of the older and smaller of the City of London's livery companies. We celebrate our piece of history, we work hard at our charitable activity, and we provide a convivial sociable environment that keeps our members engaged.

The Company dates back to the 14th century, when longbow making was first established in London on a large scale in the 1330s, in preparation for King Edward III's campaign in France leading up to the famous longbow victories of the Hundred Years' War.  The Bowyers' Company motto to this day is 'Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt'.

Longbow making flourished throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, but thereafter the field gun took over as the distance artillery weapon, and the musket as the short-range weapon, and during the course of the 16th century the Bowyers' Company sank to a very low ebb, with only 4 bowmakers left in London by the early 1600s.

It was given a lifeline by a senior member, James Wood, whose 1629 will bequeathed properties to the Bowyers that produced an income for the Company to survive on; his will also stipulated that the income be used for charitable purposes, thus setting the Bowyers on a fresh path.  The properties are sadly long gone, but the Company has remained on a charitable path ever since. We drink a silent toast to James Wood at our dinners.

We maintain bowyery associations with the Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers & Fletchers, whose awards for excellence in bowmaking are made in our name; and archery connections via the Royal Toxophilite Society, two of whose competitions we sponsor, and British Blind Sports, whose National Outdoor Finals we support.  As 'arms manufacturers' in past centuries, we maintain connections with the modern military, through strong affiliations with The Mercian Regiment, and with the frigate HMS Northumberland.

Our current charitable giving is focused on three main areas: the Mercian Benevolent Fund; initiatives in education including two MA Scholarships at King's College London and support for the Central Foundation Girls' School in the East End; and on constructive activities for disadvantaged youth, such as our support for the Brentwood Sea Cadets and 38 Squadron West Ham Air Cadets.  Our funds are modest, raised entirely from our members, but we try to make sure that what we give does actually make a difference.

Our current Master is David Laxton, recently retired as a Senior International Director for Standard and Poor's; our Upper Warden is Nigel Heilpern, until recently a London partner at global law firm King & Spalding; and our Renter Warden is Alderman Sir David Wootton, who was Lord Mayor 2011-12.  David's photo below was taken in front of the Bowyers' Window at St Botolph without Bishopsgate on the Master's Installation Day in July 2020.

Our membership is not drawn from any particular professions or walks of life; we enjoy the variety of backgrounds that our members bring. Members of the Company join as Freemen, and may subsequently become Liverymen.  The Master and Wardens, uniquely in the City, serve for two-year terms.  Much of the Company's work is carried out through its six volunteer committees: Finance, Membership, Charity, Archery, Muniments and Communications.  The Company organises approximately one event a month for its members, including 4-5 formal dinners a year, 2-3 informal supper evenings and the occasional expedition or other event.

About Us Menu