Companies

Coopers

In 1422, discord arose between the ironmongers and carpenters as to who should have the help of the fletchers, bowyers, stringers, coopers and turners in the Corpus Christi play. The outcome was that the fletchers, bowyers, stringers, coopers and turners should produce their own pageant, ‘The Scourging of Christ’. Whilst the fletchers and bowyers had amalgamated by 1468, when they reached agreement before the Mayor about how they conducted their craft as well as how they paid for the Corpus Christi light and play, the coopers are not recorded as part of the company before 1512. For the 16th century performances of their play, the stringers and turners were again associated with the company. In 1572, the total expenditure on its play was 49s 10d. In 1599, the Company made a copy of its play, which has survived, for a performance of the Mystery Play cycle which never took place.

In the late 16th century, with the growing use of firearms, the crafts of bowyer and fletcher (arrow makers) declined; in 1587, 2 ‘foreigners’ had to be admitted to the freedom to practice these crafts.

In the 17th century, the company met in the Phoenix Tower, although by 1835, when it had 19 members, it met twice a year in local inns.