The Fan Makers’ Company is honoured to have HRH The Duchess of Gloucester as our first Lady Liveryman. The Duchess is part of a long line of Royal Ladies associated with the Company.
Granted its Royal Charter by Queen Anne in 1709, the Company received great encouragement from Queen Victoria as it struggled to fend off competition from foreign fan imports and further support from her fourth daughter, Princess Louise, herself an accomplished artist. HRH The Princess Royal was admitted as an Honorary Freeman in 1926 and HRH The Princess Alice, then Duchess of Gloucester, in 1948 followed by her daughter-in-law (today’s Duchess of Gloucester) in 1975.
Since 1897 it has been the custom of the Company to present a fan to Royal Ladies, the first being to Queen Victoria at her Diamond Jubilee. This tradition continues on the occasion of a coronation, wedding or other significant cause for celebration in return for a signature on the Company’s ‘Royal Autograph Fan’. The Fan Museum is honoured to have HRH Queen Camilla as Patron. Her Royal Highness visited the Museum and formally opened the War and Peace Exhibition. She also viewed the new permanent display in the Reception Area about the history and functions of the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers.
The Fan Makers have strong ties with The Fan Museum in Greenwich, providing Trustees and making regular grants funded from a legacy left for this purpose. Apprentice Liverymen attend one of the fan making courses run by the Museum.
Open to the public since 1991, The Fan Museum is the only organisation of its kind devoted entirely to the history, culture and craft of the fan. The award-winning Museum is small-scale, Independent, and accredited by Arts Council England. Situated within the World Heritage Site of Greenwich, London, a pair of beautifully restored Grade II* Listed early Georgian period townhouses are the perfect setting for our extraordinary collections.
There are now 40 City Livery companies who have connections and sponsorships with the Armed Forces, and the Fan Makers are no exception. In 1888 Fan Maker and Lord Mayor Sir James Whitehead raised funds for equipment and in 1899 Sir Alfred Newton, Lord Mayor and Fan Maker, inaugurated the City Imperial Volunteers to fight in the Boer War.
The Worshipful Company of Fan Makers is affiliated to HMS Westminster, a Type 23 'Duke' Class frigate that was commissioned in 1994 and given a comprehensive capability upgrade in 2014. HMS Westminster has a displacement of 4,900 tons. a length of 133 meters and a top speed of 28+ knots; ship's complement is 189 officers and ratings. Her primary role is finding, tracking and, in time of war, attacking submarines of hostile navies. Her mix of sensors and weapons, together with her highly capable Merlin helicopter, provide versatile capability, enabling employment in a number of maritime roles in peace and war.
The Fan Makers adopted 56 (London) Division, Signals Regiment, TA in 1953; however, this was disbanded in one of the Army’s peacetime reorganisations. In 1962 the Company adopted 79 (City of London) Company, Women's’ Royal Army Corp (TA), but again the unit was disbanded in1967.
The Squadron was founded in 1861 and its engineers served with distinction in the Boer War and both World Wars. It is one of the six Territorial Engineer EOD units of which three, including 217 Field Squadron, are now Territorial units associated with the regular army 33 Engineer (EOD) Regiment, which have all actively contributed to the various theatres of operation including Afghanistan.
Following a suggestion by Liveryman (now Past Master) and former Wing Commander Michael Smith, in conversation with Past Master Godfrey Bilton a meeting was arranged with Air Chief Marshal Sir David Cousins. The Court visited RAF Marham in Norfolk in 1996 and were received by the Officer Commanding II (AC) Sqn, Wing Commander R F Garwood DFC. The Squadron was formally adopted at a Livery dinner on 17th October that year.