The Company of Merchants of the Staple of England
The Staple is the name given to the trade of the export of wool from 1314 onwards. Its real commercial significance was founded when it was transferred to Calais then under English rule - all exports were restricted to the freemen of the Company who in return for their monopoly paid a levy back to the Crown.
After the fall of Calais the Company moved to Bruges until 1617 when a new Charter was granted by James I and the company moved to premises in Leadenhall.
The Company managed the supply of wool to the clothing industry throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in the UK but the industrial revolution brought problems of supply and ultimate decline.
The Staple acted as a quasi Livery company but by 1948 it only had two freemen left. It was then decided to re-launch the Company as a charitable and social institution and today it has some 100 Freemen. The Company meets twice annually for dinners, usually in York, and has a biennial dinner in London.
Its long term objective is to increase the significance of its chartiable activities.
The Company runs a charitable trust and supports, annually, student travel bursaries at York and Leeds Universities and projects linked to the wool and textiles industry. It also provides biennially, when a suitable project is proposed, a scholarship to the wool trade through the Nuffield Foundation.
It also presents the prize for the Best Fleece at the Great Yorkshire Show.