King Edward IV, who granted the Shrewsbury Drapers their first charter in 1462. Painted by Thomas Francis in 1660.

The Shrewsbury Drapers Company was founded as a Guild by Royal Charter in 1462. There are 80 elected Freemen of the Guild who are trustees for three charities which manage and support almshouses in Shrewsbury. The Drapers Hall, was built in 1576, and is now in the cutody of a fourth charity, (Shrewsbury Drapers` Hall Preservation Trust) which leases it for use as a boutique hotel and restaurant. The Guild retains rights to hold meetings and feasts, and keep its historic furniture in the Hall. The Freemen are much involved in charitable work, including the almshouses and running an annual textile competition each Autumn. The other three Registered Charities are Shrewsbury Drapers Company General Charities (no. 213372) and Hospital of St Giles (no. 233903) and Holy Cross (no.1132671).

Right: King Edward IV, who granted the Shrewsbury Drapers their first charter in 1462. Painted by Thomas Francis in 1660.

Shrewsbury is a very special place and is proud of its surviving guild and Guild Hall.

The Shrewsbury Drapers` Company has retained many unbroken links back to its foundations in the 15c and its zenith in the 16c

The Shrewsbury Drapers`Company is the only surviving ancient guild in Shrewsbury and as a town is unique in having a surviving guild with an original hall. (1)

The Drapers Hall, rebuilt in 1576 on the site of an earlier hall, is used by the Company for business meetings, celebrations and feasts using much of the 17c furniture built in the Hall for the Company.

Today the Hall is a also popular bar, restaurant boutique hotel. Visitors are able to have full use of many of the original features of the building and some of the original furniture.

In St Mary`s Church, the Leybourne Chapel has been used by the Company since 1444.

The Old Market Hall in the Square was built in 1596 for the Shrewsbury Drapers to conduct their business on the first floor.

Many of the great timber framed buildings in Shrewsbury were built by Drapers in 15c and 16c and are open and available to visit. These buildings include Rowley’s Mansion; which houses the Visitor Information Centre. Vaughan’s Mansion; incorporated into the site of the proposed Shrewsbury Museum. Millingtons Hospital, Owen’s Mansion, Bennet’s Hall, Prowde’s Mansion and Ireland’s Mansion are all retail outlets and there are many other that can be visited by arrangement including Bowdler’s House and Perche’s Mansion

Since 1444 the Company has an unbroken link with the people of Shrewsbury by providing them with affordable housing.

Almshouses were built in front of St Mary`s Church in 1444 by a draper Diggory Watur. These were replaced in the 1820s (across St Mary`s Street) and rebuilt in 1964 in Longden Coleham where they house 16 residents.

The Company has recently taken over responsibility of almshouses near St Giles Church and more recently the almshouses of The Abbey Church of The Holy Cross. These were transferred to The Shrewsbury Drapers Company in 2010. We propose building additional affordable housing on the site.

(1) Fellmongers` Hall in Frankwell was built around the same time as Drapers`Hall . It was used by Messrs T Birch Ltd of Birmingham, Fellmongers and Wool Merchants, until 1971.

Various part od the building have been used previously for the various processes in the wool trade and only relatively recently became associated as a place used by Fellmongers (Nigel Baker, Shrewsbury; An archaeological assessment of an English border town, Oxbow Books, 2010

If you have any evidence this was used as a guild hall, please use the contact page and send Nigel Hinton. Nigel would also be pleased to receive information on the Shrewsbury Drapers Company or any of the Shrewsbury based trade guilds.

The Drapers Company

The Drapers Company

In medieval and Tudor times ‘Drapers’ was the name given to merchants dealing in woollen cloth, and in Shrewsbury’s records of 1204 the names of individual drapers are recorded in the town’s first ‘Guild Merchant Rolls’.
The Hall
The first 'hall' or meeting place for the guild is not known, but in 1485 a new guildhall was built close to St Mary’s Church and the almshouses, at a cost of £ 9-15d-6d. Almost a century later, in 1576, the heyday of the Drapers’ prosperity, the present Hall was built on the same site in the old commercial centre of the town.
Textile Design Competition
At present there is an annual Textile Design Competition, open to residents of Shropshire, which started in 1995. A theme is announced in November each year well before the awards ceremony in September the following year. It is published in local newspapers throughout Shropshire as well as in local libraries. Contact details are not published here because the details change and are unlikely to be updated regularly.