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The Warham Guild was founded in London November 1912 to augment the studies of the Alcuin Club and the directives of The Parson's Handbook, and to carry out "the making of all the 'Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof' according to the standard of the Ornaments Rubric, and under fair conditions of labour". It is an indication of the founders' outlook, emphasis, and commitment to the English Use that it was named for the last Archbishop of Canterbury before the break with Rome.
The Guild's influential Advisory Committee was headed by Percy Dearmer, who continued in that capacity until his death in 1936, when he was succeeded by Jocelyn Perkins, Sacrist of Westminster Abbey. From its beginning the Committee was composed of an extremely able group including Maurice Bell, F. E. Brightman, E. Hermitage Day, E. E. Dorling, F. C. Eeles. G. Kruger-Gray, and several women.
"Besides providing vestments, furnishing altars, and acting for craftsmen in wood and metal, the Guild" - according to the Handbook of 1932 - "is able to offer valuable advice and help, architectural and ecclesiological, in any work connected with the fabric of our churches". Dearmer wrote in his introduction to Leaflet No. 25 "one of the chief objects, therefore, of the Warham Guild is to co-operate with artists and craftsmen in order that examples of all kinds of work might be constantly on view at the Guild's headquarters and to give assurance that all work ordered through the Guild is produced by trustworthy craftsmen".
To assist in this endeavour, a series of well written and illustrated publications and occasional leaflets was issued between 1912 and 1963; a bibliographical list follows:
One or two leaflets were reprinted in the early 1960s, and in 1963 the original Handbook (no. 28 above), published in 1932, was revised by Cyril Pocknee. Francis Eeles, last member of the original Advisory Committee, died in 1954, and Jocelyn Perkins in 1962.
For many years the Guild was associated with Mowbrays, which acted as managers and provided the Guild's quarters on Margaret Street, London, but the Guild itself was directed by the Advisory Committee. In the 1960s Mowbrays underwent their own reorganisation and when in 1969 their church furnishings interests were combined with those of Wippell, the Guild was included in the relocation to Exeter (Wippell's headquarters) as part of the Wippell Mowbray Church Furnishing Ltd. The move has been cited as contributing to the demise of the Guild, as few of the former staff remained after the merger. By 1980, when Wippell took over the firm in its entirety, the Warham Guild name was all that remained.
The very abbreviated listing of the Guild's commissions in Peter Anson's Fashions in Church Furnishings is perhaps the most extensive presently available, as its seems that none of the Warham Guild records have been preserved. To be found throughout the Anglican Communion, the Warham Guild's work - rich frontals, altars with riddels and dossals, apparelled vestments, flowing surplices, chasubles and tunicles, embroidered banners, rood screens and rood beams, carved and gilded altar crosses and candlesticks, aumbries, fonts and lecterns, chalices and ciboria, censers, sanctuary lamps, double pyxes and sick-communion vessels, stained glass, episcopal appointments, copes, and much else - is synonymous with outstanding design, high-quality workmanship, and good taste.
Reprinted with permission.
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