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 a strong affiliation with The Mercian Regiment, and with the frigate HMS Northumberland.
Our current charitable giving is focused on three main areas: the Mercian Regiment Benevolent Fund; initiatives in education including a History MA Scholarship at KCL and support for the Central Foundation Girls' School in the East End; and on constructive activities for disadvantaged youth, such as the outdoor archery range we funded in 2015 for use by 7-8,000 inner London kids annually. Our funds are modest, raised entirely from our members, but we try to make sure that what we give does actually make a difference.
The Company is managed by the Master and Wardens, supported by the Court of Assistants and the Clerk. Our current Master is Tony Kench, former international manager with GE and strategy consultant in airlines and telecoms. Our Upper Warden is Ian Spring, retired tax partner of Moore Stephens. Our Renter Warden is Mark Elliott, a senior legal counsel at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Our Clerk is Lt Col Tony Marinos, formerly of the Royal Anglian Regiment. 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 by invitation 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: Events & Communications, Finance, Membership, Charity, Archery and Muniments. 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.