Barge of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, 1656


State Barges on the Thames

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Built in 1656, this was the first barge to have been specially built for the company’s own use. Until 1656 the company had hired a barge for processional use, often in association with the Merchant Taylors’ Company. But their experience of hired barges was obviously not happy, since they complained of ‘having often bin caryed in poore boates that sometymes could not carye the company to their journey’s end’. The company’s minutes show that the barge was seriously out of repair in 1728, but it was made to last until, in 1738, having observed the barge built by Mr Hall for the Fishmongers, the company decided to have one built to the same dimensions for the sum of £439. Despite the sort of treatment that caused the company court to forbid the drinking of French wines and hock on board, this barge seems to have survived for an unusually long time. This may have been due to the very thorough repairs carried out in 1828 at a cost of £655, and again in 1855 for £257. When the Lord Mayor abandoned the water procession two years later, most companies were thankful to be saved the expense, but the Skinners were very reluctant to give up their barge. However, it was sold in 1858 to Searle’s (1) for £75, and until about 1900 was afloat on the Isis at Oxford, doing service as Queen’s College boat house.

Additional information

Dimensions 38 × 23 cm