The company is the 83rd Livery of the City of London out of 103, but only the sixth to be formed since the reign of Queen Anne. All of its 300 Liverymen and 60 Freemen are involved in the Furniture Industry in some way.
The primary aim of the Company is to promote the design, manufacture, and retail of British Furniture. In order to do so it offers awards, bursaries and prizes (up to £50,000 per year), and arranges courses and conferences to promote craftsmanship and training, advance technical knowledge and enhance standards of design and quality of furniture.
Since 1958 it has run the Guild Mark Scheme to offer prestigious recognition of outstanding furniture, whether from large-scale manufacturers with the Company Guild Mark, or one-off and small batch pieces with the Craft Guild Mark. This page contains some outstanding examples of the latter which are judged to be of outstanding quality in design, craftsmanship, materials and function.
As their Millennium Project the Company decided to create a Furniture Makers’ Walk in the Arboretum at Castle Howard in Yorkshire. It is run by the Castle Howard Arboretum Trust and is managed by The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
The Furniture Makers’ Walk was opened in July 2000, and includes some 29 species of trees used in English furniture making.
These tell the beginning of the story of trees to furniture. Each tree is clearly labelled and story boards indicate the uses to which they were put - from structural timber to turnings and veneers, and many features in the life, propagation, growth, management, felling and processing of timber trees.
Currently the entrance to the Arboretum is a modest portakabin which, unfortunately, is able to display very little educational material. Visitor numbers had increased last year from an almost standing start to 5,000 and are expected to multiply quickly from now on. A larger and improved visitor centre is planned. The role of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers in this will be to develop the themes which relate furniture to the living tree through pictures, touch screen technology and a substantial amount of educational material, particularly appropriate to 10-15 school age groups, but also of great interest to mature visitors.