Episcopal News Service
J. Wippell & Co., a British manufacturer of clerical clothing and church furnishings as well as academic gowns, plans to close the 234-year-old business by the end of the year.
Wippell & Co began in Devon, England, in 1789, as a grocer and tea dealer, but the business eventually expanded to funeral services, selling fabrics and tailoring. A century later, Wipple started selling into “the groundswell of restoration and building in the Church of England,” according to a company history. The business went on to become an academic and clerical outfitter, and supplier of church furnishings, making handmade items ranging from cassocks and chimeres to graduation gowns and mortarboards to altar frontals and copes.
Its customers include universities in the United Kingdom and overseas, the Anglican Church, Church of Scotland, United Reform Church, Episcopal, Methodist and Baptist churches in America, and in numerous other countries from Australia to Sweden, according to a company press release.
The company said in the press release that the decision to close “comes after two difficult years (of) trading during the pandemic, with the company losing hundreds of thousands of pounds as university graduation ceremonies and other face-to-face events stopped.”
Many of those face-to-face events included setting up shop at denominational gatherings such as the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention. Wippell is one of a handful of clerical haberdashers that have been perennial fixtures in the convention’s exhibit hall.
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