The Silver Trust, registered charity number 299152, is a charity founded to promote the education, understanding and appreciation of the art, design and craft of British silver. To do so it has formed a national collection of contemporary British silver. Uniquely the collection, owned by the Trust and funded entirely through donations, was conceived and is designed to be used in official government residences and to represent and promote the talented silversmiths working throughout the United Kingdom.
The idea of founding such a Trust and assembling such a collection dates back to 1985 when Lady Mary Henderson, wife of Sir Nicholas Henderson who had been British Ambassador to the United States from 1979 to 1982, attended a State Dinner at 10 Downing Street and was surprised to learn that the government did not have access to a service of silver which could be used for such important occasions. Following a meeting at Goldsmiths’ Hall between Lady Henderson, Jean Muir, C.B.E., the celebrated fashion designer, and Professor Gerald Benney, a respected silversmith, the idea emerged of creating such a service to promote and encourage British silversmiths. The charity was officially set up in 1986, by which time Rupert Hambro C.B.E., later Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, and Marcia Falkender, Baroness Falkender C.B.E., former private secretary to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, had joined. The Silver Trust immediately began to commission silver which would in due course be made available on loan to the Government for use in official entertaining, mostly at 10 Downing Street.
Following the initial commission of Malcolm Appleby to design and produce a condiment set in 1987, the Silver Trust was presented with a very generous donation from an anonymous benefactor which allowed it to begin commissioning in earnest and so the Trustees set up a Commissioning Committee, whose role it was to oversee the process of seeking new commissions, many of which were competed between 1991 and 1993. By early in 1993 there was sufficient silver to present the Collection to 10 Downing Street for the use of the then Prime Minister, John Major.
Each Prime Minister since has made use of the collection, for both government and state occasions, with new pieces still being added to the collection.