Our normal colourful procession from Bedern Hall to All Saints, Pavement to celebrate our Charter was, of course, cancelled this year.

However, we were pleased that we were allowed five Court members in the church and were also able to invite the Lord Mayor.

The Master’s recent hip surgery meant that she couldn’t join us and the plan for her to read the lesson from home was failed by technology.  Master Elect Geoffrey Berry read instead.

We were all pleased to meet the new Priest in Charge, Liz Hassell, and to welcome the Lord Mayor, Cllr Janet Looker.  For her this was the first, and last, time that she had attended All Saints this year.

Inside there were masks, social distancing and only a cantor to sing the hymns and the responses, but we were pleased that we were able to attend, even in such a limited way.

The new Master of the Cordwainers, Mrs Ann Deller, was installed at a Zoom meeting of the Company on 8th May 2021.

Like so many other organisations Zoom has become the new normal and restrictions meant that we couldn’t meet in person.

The Master was sworn in by the outgoing Master and Clerk, Mrs. Ann Reid, and thanked the Company for the honour.

Geoffrey Berry was sworn in as Master Elect.

The Officers of the Company and the Court of Assistants were also sworn in.

Since March 2020 when this country went into the first of three lockdowns, and despite the introduction of the Tier system, the Company has continued to hold Court meetings, via Zoom of course.

During the most recent Court meeting in January, the first of 2021, it was agreed that with great regret the Charter Weekend, traditionally held in May, would have to be cancelled.

After further discussion, it was agreed that indeed no definite plans could be made for the rest of the year without a clear idea of how the Coronavirus would continue to affect the country.

An additional important decision was approved that the Court should now meet monthly to keep reviewing the situation.

Congratulations to York College University Centre fashion student Zara Hale, on winning The Company of Cordwainers of the City of York project competition 2020. Zara’s achievement was celebrated via a virtual Zoom call, with representatives from the Company of Cordwainers and her tutors in attendance.

Zara’s achievement was celebrated via a virtual Zoom call

The Company of Cordwainers has supported students studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Product Innovation for many years and, despite the COVID pandemic, this year was no different. Students were tasked with designing a garment incorporating leather, inspired by the rich heritage of the Company of Cordwainers, even though face-to-face teaching was suspended and students were working from home.

Although it was not possible for the final designs to be constructed, the Company of Cordwainers commended all participating students for the breadth of their research and the quality of their digital designs and portfolio work in response to the project brief. Recognising the students’ achievements, they announced the competition winner to be Zara Hale.

Part of Zara’s winning submission

Zara’s designs were inspired by the project introduction hosted by the Company at Bedern Hall in February 2020. At the event, The Cordwainers withdrew items from their archive, especially for the students to observe. Zara was able to handle ancient tools used for leatherwork and examine leather samples and products, such as the shoe that is appliqued on the back of her winning design.

Master of the Company, Ann Reid MBE, said: “The Company of Cordwainers of the City of York are delighted to continue their support of the BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Product Innovation course. The students are always thought-provoking and innovative with their projects and this year was no different. Despite the fact that they could not make their final garments, the portfolios that they produced showed us clearly what they would have made in a COVID-free world. Cordwainers were leather workers, which is why we ask the students to incorporate leather in their final design. The decision was not an easy one, but Zara Hale was a worthy winner of the 2020 award.”

Winner: Zara Hale

Zara originates from Somerset and worked in The Mulberry Factory before moving to York to pursue her education in the field of Fashion. Her tutor Rebecca O’Leary is delighted to see her talents recognised: “Working part-time as a key worker and attending evening classes to develop her academic skills, Zara has demonstrated huge resilience coping with the demands of degree-level study. She has developed hugely in the first year of the programme and is a worthy winner of the prize.”

Master and Master-Elect enjoyed a wonderful luncheon hosted by The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London, held at the Stationers’ Hall near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

A twenty-year-old York College fashion student has demonstrated that the ancient craft of fine leather-working is alive and well.

Georgia Tyssen won the ‘Cordwainers Medal’, awarded each year to a first-year BA fashion student at the college by the Company of Cordwainers of York. Cordwainers were historically workers in fine leathers and the company is one of just seven craft Guilds and Companies which survives in the city today.

Georgia, who was born and bred in York, studied the technique of leather moulding and used it for the ‘body moulding’ on a chiffon and georgette dress. She took into account her own medical history and health when developing the details of her design, and outsourced the manufacture of the fastening detail to York College’s contemporary craft department, which used a 3-D printer.

She was presented with her medal by the Master Cordwainer of York, Ann Reid, at the Cordwainers’ recent Martinmas Feast.

The Company of Cordwainers made two interesting visits this summer.

The first was to Bishopthorpe Palace, where 20 Cordwainers enjoyed a private tour to the historic home of the Archbishop of York.

Our second visit was to the Castle Museum where, after a guided tour of Kirkgate, we were treated to a viewing of some of the Museum’s historic shoes.

Visit to Castle Museum

Pageant Master, Don Marshall, was presented with an Armed Forces Day Flag by the Lord Mayor.

He was one of three Service Veterans awarded the honour this year.  Don received it in recognition of his Army service and his work with the Parachute Regimental Association of York.

Congratulations from the Company.

Sadly Don Marshall passed away in 2020.

The Company welcomed the Lord Provost of Aberdeen as the guest speaker at the Livery Dinner in May.

The Lord Mayor and the Civic Party were also present at the dinner that followed the installation of the new master Mrs Ann Reid.  We also had guests from the nine London “leathery” Companies and from 3 Scottish Trades.

The Charter Day service was also well attended with a long procession from All Saints Church to Bedern Hall.

The Company of Cordwainers 2018 Charter Weekend was a great success.

The weekend included the installation of the new Master, Ann Reid MBE; the Livery Dinner – where the Lord Provost of Aberdeen was the guest speaker; and the well-attended Charter Day service which included a long procession from All Saints Church to Bedern Hall.