The Drapery Trade
The medieval member might have had a shop where he sold drapery; wealthier members were merchants, traders in wool and cloth, and financiers.
The expansion of the English woollen cloth trade in the 15th century was reflected in the prosperity of the Drapers’ Company. When the order of precedence of the City Companies was set in 1516, the Drapers’ position was confirmed as being third, after the Mercers and the Grocers.
In the Middle Ages, the Company had extensive powers to regulate the woollen cloth trade in the City of London. The Company controlled the sale of cloth at fairs held in the City and set the "Drapers’ ell", or standard measure, by which all cloth was sold. Dealers could only sell cloth to a freeman of the Company.
The Company’s Development
Over time, the Company's connections with the cloth trade ceased. However, more recently, links with the cloth industry have been re-established by the foundation of exhibitions, postgraduate and teaching awards and sponsorship in the field of textile design, conservation and technology.
The ram with the Golden Fleece, seen in many guises, from the architectural ornaments at Drapers’ Hall to the motif on members’ ties, is the constant reminder of the origins of the Company’s wealth. It also forms the crest of the Company' coat of arms.