toye, kenninG & spencer
draws on centuries
of craftsManship for
by Cason Lane
In 1685, a family of French Protestants fled
to England after King Louis XIV declared
Protestantism illegal in France. The family
was in the business of weaving, embroidery,
and uniform trimmings, and they were part
of an exodus that deprived France of many
of its most educated and skilled individuals.
Disguised as cattle dealers, the family of refugees – whose name was Toyé
– sailed into the Thames and settled near
London, where they resumed the family
business. More than 300 years later, that
business is still going – and Freemasonry
is a big part of it.
The company, called Toyé, Kenning &
Spencer, is perhaps the oldest manufacturer
of Masonic regalia in the world, supplying
the United Grand Lodge of England and
lodges worldwide with aprons, jewels, ribbons, furnishings, and other regalia.
Introduction to the craft
From their earliest days in England, the
Toyés used their skills in weaving, lacemaking, embroidery, and gold and silver
wire-making to create curtains and clothing for the theater and uniform trimmings
for English regiments. As the business was
passed from one generation to the next, the family adapted to
the needs of the time.
In the mid-1800s, William Toyé became an active and
prominent Freemason and, in 1869, a founder of the Burdett-Coutts Lodge No. 1278 in London. This period opened up a
whole new segment of business: supplying braids and ribbons
for Masonic regalia.
During this time, the company built a modern factory and a
Masons and monarchs
As a result of a downturn in the military business, Masonic regalia became the foundation of the Toyé business. In fact, the
demand from Freemasons was so high that the company moved