THE COMPANY’S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CHURCH – A HISTORICAL SUMMARY
The Company began as the Fraternity of St John the Baptist, concerned as much with the spiritual welfare of its members as with trade regulation. The Company still possesses two elaborate embroidered hearse cloths bearing the Company arms, one of c.1490 and the other of c.1520, which were placed on the coffin at members’ funerals. These are now displayed in the Hall.
In 1413 a bequest from John Churchman, a Company Member, established the first almshouses in London. These were just east of the Hall, in Threadneedle Street, and were for Company Members’ use.
Another bequest in 1514, from James Wylford, established a sermon in Holy Week, to be delivered in the church of St Bartholomew by the Exchange. St Bartholomew’s was demolished in the early 19th century, and the annual sermon is now delivered in the church of St Helen Bishopsgate. It is believed to be the only pre-Reformation sermon charity still in existence.