2016/2017 acted as a landmark year for Richard Humphries as he celebrated 50 years in the textile industry and became the 883rd Upper Bailiff of the Worshipful Company of Weavers, London’s oldest livery formed in 1130. He does so uniquely as for a practicing weaver to undertake this honour is rare. Richard now acts as Immediate Past Upper Bailiff and is still active within the livery.
Richard Humphries joined the Weavers’ Company in 1987 and was appointed to the Court in 2009. The livery are wholly charitable and offer support through grants to areas as diverse as alms-houses, local primary schools, reducing re offending and supporting specialist weaving universities and their students; including the highly regarded entry to work scheme that Richard himself introduced.
Richard’s journey in textiles began in the mid-1960s. He has always had an artistic and creative spirit, interested in both design and style. Leaving school at an early age he was apprenticed into the trade as a design trainee, with the renowned firm of Warner and Sons Ltd. Richard learnt all areas of the business and became the last to graduate, when the firm ceased trading in 1971.
With his understanding of the clients and their specific needs Richard saw an opportunity and decided to start his own weaving company. Richard founded the business at just 20 years of age in 1972, in the same building where the firm operates from today in historic Sudbury, on the Essex/Suffolk Border.
“I think, when I look back to the very start of Humphries Weaving, it was about taking a chance and being able to take the risk without worrying about the consequences.”
What started as a very small operation, a cottage industry, was to become a highly prestigious and renowned silk weaving company; designing fabrics for some of the most important interiors, in Britain and abroad. His work at Hampton Court and the Royal Palaces, restoring the State Apartments was recognised in 1985 when he was awarded the MBE for his services to the textile industry.
Restoration of interiors of international importance requires research, development and crucial planning. This includes working with architects, conservators, curators and interior decorators. This multi-disciplined approach is the most crucial and demanding part of any scheme whether classic or modern; colour matching, quality control and finally production must all be in place for a successful outcome.
“The nature of our work means that it is often documented, displayed and discussed for many years after we have completed a project.”
Richard is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience with a new generation of weaver-designers at Humphries Weaving who continue to uphold the company’s reputation as a leading authority in historical restoration.
Meet the team
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