Charitable Activities

As a registered Charity, the Company aims are twofold:  firstly to preserve the historic institution of The Company of Merchant Taylors in the City of York, and in so doing to maintain its ancient hall, its traditions and its ceremonies.  Secondly, and wherever possible, the Company sets aside modest funds to provide financial support to projects involving young people who wish to advance and develop their skills in the fields of art, craftsmanship and music.


Recent Awards

In recent years, the Company has made many awards in a wide variety of areas under the headings of arts, music and craftsmanship including:


Creative Bursaries

The Company of Merchant Taylors presents Creative Bursaries to a select group of art and design students at York College, enabling them to progress their creative skills. Each student benefits from £200 extra funding, helping them to pursue their educational ambitions. 


How to Apply

Company Grants are available to young people from the City of York and surrounding area to assist in their pursuit of the arts, music or traditional crafts.  Typically grants will be up to £1000.

An application form can be downloaded here and should be completed and returned by email to The Clerk at clerk@merchant-taylors-york.org


York Mystery Plays

The York Mystery Plays originated in medieval times and were produced by the Guilds at the behest of the City Council on a day in midsummer, on the feast of Corpus Christi (the Thursday after Trinity Sunday).  

Around 50 Plays, each telling a story from the Bible, were enacted from waggons, drawn in turn at several stations in the City Streets.  The Reformation put a stop to the plays in York as well as other cities such as Chester and Coventry. In 1909, the York Historic Pageant included a parade of guild banners accompanying a wagon representing the Nativity through the streets and in December the same year a selection of six plays was performed as a fund-raising venture for St Olave's Church, York. The play cycle was revived on a much larger scale in 1951 in the York Festival of the Arts, part of the Festival of Britain celebrations.

In recent years the York Guilds have presented twelve of the Plays in the traditional way on a four-yearly cycle, the next being in 2018.  Although the Tailors' Play in medieval times was "The Ascension of the Lord to Heaven", the Merchant Taylors have presented different Plays as part of the selected twelve to be performed on each occasion.  For the next cycle in 2018 the Company has partnered with York College who will incorporate the waggon set build, costume design, music and performance in their curriculum so that the chosen play can be delivered as a College Project.  Members of the Company will accompany the waggon in support of the players and ensure that it is moved between venues.