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History of the Company

Long before they received formal recognition, the Girdlers were a fraternity of craftsmen, associating for religious observance and mutual assistance, as well as for guarding the secrets, standards and conditions of their craft. They received royal letters patent in 1327 regulating the craft, and in 1449 were granted a Royal Charter of incorporation. This enabled the Company to own property in perpetuity, if it so wished, as opposed to mere lifetime ownership by its members.

The Company received a grant of arms in 1454. The arms embody three gridirons, alias griddle or girdle irons. The crest is a figure of St. Lawrence the Martyr who, according to legend, was burned to death on a gridiron. On account of this punning allusion, St. Lawrence is the patron saint of the Girdlers, and the Company has ancient connections with the nearby church of St. Lawrence Jewry-next-Guildhall.

The members of the Company used to wear a distinguishing livery - a coloured gown and hood, believed to have been of blue and gold.

The Girdlers flourished from medieval times until the end of the sixteenth century, when girdles began to go out of fashion. Even in its heyday, the Company overlapped with other crafts concerned with metal or leather and was at various times associated with the Pinners, the Cordwainers and the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers. Today the Girdlers' Company no longer practises its craft, with the single proud exception that it has the privilege of presenting the sword belt for the Sword of State and stole for each Sovereign's coronation.