The world’s oldest tailors

Ede & Ravenscroft

SAID to be the oldest firm of tailors in the world, Ede & Ravenscroft have been robemakers to everyone from the royal family and the judiciary to professors and students since 1689 – the same year that William and Mary came to the throne, wearing coronation robes provided by the firm.

The firm, in Chancery Lane, has supplied coronation robes – made of silk, mantua, satin, damask, sarsnet, cloth-of-gold, ermine and priceless gems – for 12 subsequent coronations, including that of Queen Elizabeth II.  It is one of a very few companies to hold all three royal warrants from the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales.

Ede & Ravenscroft also supplies garments for ceremonial occasions for every branch of government, from the monarch and Parliament to the legal system and local municipalities.  It has supplied attire for royal funerals, robes and regalia for chivalric orders such as the Order of the Garter, robes for Parliament and for the Lord Mayor of London, legal dress and wigs for judges, barristers, and QCs, and academic garb for university graduates. It is particularly known for its white horsehair wigs worn by members of the legal profession – although it is a vanity to wear a very old, well-worn one. Its extensive records contain invaluable documentation of centuries of the ceremonial history of London.

But did you know it also owns one of the world’s finest collections of miniature furniture? With the same interest in fine detail and design which has allowed them to retain royal patronage for more than 300 years, Ede & Ravenscroft have commissioned artisans to create miniature period rooms which painstakingly and accurately reproduce 18th-century furniture.

Pieces of furniture by the great French ébénistes found in the Wallace Collection, such as a secretaire by Carlin, and a roll-top desk by Riesener, are reproduced in miniature scale, incorporating fine materials such as Sèvres porcelain, Carrara marble, gilt bronze, and velvet.  The tiny, delicate results are works of art combining historical detail with modern luxury – much like the grand robes and finery which Ede & Ravenscroft have been producing for hundreds of years in the same neighbourhood of London.

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