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History of The Herefordshire Guild of Craftsmen

Where it all began…

Back in 1953, a number of Herefordshire people had the idea of forming a group which would be dedicated to promoting the craft skills in the area. They would set a very high standard of work, which would be displayed to the public and hopefully purchased. The first President of the Guild was Sir Richard Cotterell, and the first ‘Master’ (Chairman) was Capt. NJ Bengough. A committee was chosen to represent all of the members, enabling a consistency of the required standards to be maintained and to look after the interests of the members. A constitution was drawn up to lay down the basic rules and regulations for the Guild and its members.

Originally, the membership was made up of Craftsmen/women, apprentice craftsmen and women, Associates and Honorary Members. The qualifications for a craft worker were that he/she earned a living by their craft and should have attained a standard of skill approved by the Committee. An annual subscription would be payable by all participating members. Most of these points are still followed, though apprentices are rare now!

Many of the traditional crafts have been lost to modern technology. Some crafts from the early membership included wheelwrighting, thatching, cleaving and stonemasonry. Even though these specialist crafts skills are still sought, their presence at shows is rare.

The Guild today

The group continues to be run based on the founding principles, updated to be relevant to the present day. Though the number of active members has fluctuated over the years, the Guild has always boasted a diverse collection of arts and crafts to present to the public and is always keen to attract new members. 
Our active membership, together with interest from the public at shows and exhibitions, is the mainstay of today’s Craft workers. Public support, admiration and feedback are invaluable to craftspeople in determining the design and production of their goods.

Evolution of the Guild

In the years ahead, no doubt the Guild will continue to evolve and change shape as new members join, crafts will diversify, new skills, new crafts and new ideas will be explored. 
This year, we will celebrate our 70th anniversary so keep an eye on what we’re up to in this special year!