Thursday, 30 September 2010


Two events in the City of London year have just occurred.  The Sheriffs' Breakfast where the ingoing and outgoing sheriffs handover and the Election of the Lord Mayor where the candidate for the mayoral year starting in November is confirmed.

First, the Sheriffs' Breakfast, slightly confusingly starting at 12.45pm.  Because of the size of our Livery Hall, it can seat 270, it is a popular venue for this gathering of the City's 'great and good.'  Alderman David Wootton and Peter Cook have now stood down and replaced by Alderman Fiona Woolf and David Sermon.  I had no part to play in the the breakfast ceremonies and was in the pleasant position of being the recipient of plaudits about our Hall and of the highly efficient, professional and courteous way that John Freestone and his team handle a big complex function.

I conclude with the poem in the inimitable style of Pauline Halliday, a past sheriff and Master Farrier and currently Deputy of Walbrook Ward, that concluded her speech when she toasted the health of the new sheriffs and their spouses:

From Drapers' Hall thence to the Old Bailey

Now to live and work by the sheets that come daily
Fiona, Nicholas, Richard and Rosemary begin their year
A tremendous team they will be and of great cheer
This I must now complete as I try to be in good time
So let us all here salute them with a glass of wine.

Second, the Election of the Lord Mayor which took place in Guildhall on Wednesday morning.  This was preceded by a church service at St Lawrence Jewry.  It is both a ritual with over 800 years of tradition and the moment at which the Livery of the City declare their support for the mayoral candidates.  A hugely colourful ceremony with the broadest pallette of colour provided by the robes of the 108 masters of the City's livery companies.  Alderman Michael Bear was elected Lord Mayor following which there were the traditional sppeches of thanks and appreciation.  The highlight of these was HRH The Princess Royal, who is a strong supporter of the City livery, this year she is Master Butcher, giving a speech of thanks for the outging Lord Mayor, Alderman Nicholas Anstee.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Again a topic that does not have even the most tangential impact with the Drapers' Company.  Nevertheless I thought readers might just be interested.

Tuesday night saw Christian Wolmar, the well known transport journalist and writer, launching his new book Engines of War at the beautifully restored German Gymnasium at King's Cross.  There's more about Christian on his website  and, if you are early for a Eurostar, East Coast or Midland Mainline train the German Gymnasium is, in the words of the Michelen guides, certainly worth the, five minute, detour.  More details at 

This is the tenth book Christian has written and this is the third on big railway themes.  The first Fire and Steam dealt with the history of Britain's railways, the second Blood, Iron and Gold on the development of railways worldwide and this book Engines of War on the darker, but equally dramatic, subject of railways and warfare. 

As I seem to have some experience of both subjects - on the logistics of war in particular - Christian asked me to read the first draft of the book.  From the outset I found it a good read.  Going over someone else's first draft is always a most interesting experience as not only are you commenting on another's work but it forces a personal  reassessment of one's own experience, knowledge and capacity for analysis. 

The first big idea that came out of Christian's work was that Naploeon understood the logistic techniques that would allow railways to win wars but, probably fortunately, was held back by the largely railwayless logistics at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

But the major area was his reassessment of the crucial part railways played in the First World War.  It is quite clear on all the major fronts that railways allowed the generals to deploy massive resources forward, sustain millions of soldiers and, although casualty rates were high, kept them considerably lower than they might have been with rapid evacuation of the wounded.  However the crucial weakness of a railway network was its relative inflexibilty.  AJP Taylor was wrong to claim that railway's produced an inflexible war by timetable but nevertheless they stopped rapid and deep advance to exploit initial successes.  The tragic outcome was a war that could be sustained by railways for fifty months before one side broke.

But, as with all Christian's books, it is not just high level stuff.  There is a wealth of detail and anecdote as well.

Railways will almost certainly never again play the major role in warfare that they did for the century after 1850.  But it is a great historical and military read and I am proud to have played a very small part in the book's genesis.  Naturally I recommend a very good read.


Rosemary, Nadia Jackson, wife of Past Master Sir Nicholas Jackson Bt, and Lady Virginia Fitzroy are putting on an exhibition next week at 54, The Gallery, Shepherd Market - gallery details at    

Although their artstic styles are very different they are complementary and I think every picture would fit, however broadly, into one of the categories of the exhibition's title.

If you are around Mayfair next week do drop in.  Opening times are Tuesday 5th October 11am - 6pm, Wednesday 6th October - Saturday 9 October 11am - 7pm.

Examples of Rosemary's work can be found on


Royal Thamesis on a visit to Venice.  Venice is one of the few places where similar craft are still in existence but the Venetians customarily row standing
The Company is owner of Royal Thamesis, a six seat shallop sometimes described  as the 'limousine of the eighteenth centuryThames.' It is operated by City Barge which brings together enthusiasts for the very particular watermanship skills to operate this type of vessel.  The City Barge website provides fascinating background detail on the subject and describes the current activities of the club.

An eighteenth century Drapers' Company Barge, considerably larger than the Royal Thamesis. The rowers were forward and the canopied section for the Court and guests occupies midships.
The livery companies, until the early nineteenth century, had splendid barges that were used for great ceremonial occasions. They required up to thirty oarsman and a bargemaster who directed both the rowers and a marvelously named 'whiffler' in a dinghy to steer the vessel. Meanwhile members of the Company were seated in splendour under a canopy where they were serenaded by a band - the ultimate in eighteenth century on-board sound systems. Handel's Water Music was composed for such an event during the reign of George II.

The Royal Thamesis is a scale replica of these barges. It was purchased by the Company in 2003, not only to sustain the tradition of barge rowing, but also to provide a facility for children, especially from the inner city, to use. Two events this month have done just that.

Children enjoying a ride on the Royal Thamesis
Regatta for the Disabled, Phyllis Court,
Henley 4 September

My thanks to Liveryman Andrew Finlay for this report. The Drapers’ Barge, Royal Thamesis, recently took part in the first ever ‘Regatta for the Disabled’. Henley has more than its fair share of regattas, but this is the first one organised as a fun(draising) event. The charities organising the day were: Building for the Future - , Headway Thames Valley - and Rivertime Boat Trust -

Building for the Future and Headway Thames Valley both support local disabled people. Rivertime Boat Trust runs an adapted river cruiser which takes disabled people and their carers out on the Thames.

Phyllis Court Club soon heard about the idea of a boating event and wanted to lend a hand, as did the Henley Rowing Club. Liveryman Andrew Finlay is both a Henley resident and Phyllis Court Club member as well as being on the Drapers’ Company Barge Committee. He found hiimself unable to resist such an event on his doorstep.

The Royal Thamesis at Henley for the Regatta for the Disabled
photograph thanks to Andrew Finlay
On the 4th September, the Bargemaster, Andrew Thomson and his wife, Andrew Finlay and several other liverymen were on duty on the banks of the Thames. In the course of the day Royal Thamesis gave river trips to at least 50 disabled people – and some more able-bodied ones such as local MP, John Howell, and Henley Mayor, Jeni Woods - in huge hat as usual!

The regatta organising committee were effusive in their thanks to the Drapers' Company, and we and they look forward to repeating the event in 2011.

Countryside Live: Country Fair for Schoolchildren, Lee Valley Park, 22/23 September

Countryside Live organises an annual country fair for city children in the Lee Valley Park where a whole range of country activities are made available for children to have a go.  The barge is a popular part of this event and was present both days giving rides to visitors.

Bargemaster Andrew Thomson led the team supported by Liverymen Gil Dirdal, Secretary, John Borradaile, Stephen Heron, Bruce Hopking and Richard Norton who was the lead in reviving the barge idea a decade ago.  Spouses also helped and Alastair Ross, the Clerk, came along on the second day.

On the final afternoon the barge had to be repositioned on the tidal Thames, about four miles away for the Great River Race.  The Clerk admitted, who helped row this distance, admitted to finding it just a trifle tiring.

A fine view of the Royal Thamesis underway


Richard Channer, Recovering from an operation, myself and Ronnie Henderson, Head of East house at Canary Wharf with one of the two sponsored taxis proudly bearing the Bancroft's badge.
On Friday morning Liveryman Richard Channer, who is Housemaster of East House, Bancroft's School, invited me down to see off the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers annual children's Magical Taxi Tour to Eurodisney, Paris.
The Hackney Carriage Drivers is exclusively comprised of London taxi drivers . Further details are at  Their annual trip to Eurodisney is an opportunity for children with life threatening illnesses and their families to have a few days of relaxation and fun. The Company raises a huge sum of money for the 100 taxi convoy that drives from London to Paris. The taxi drivers involved give freely of their time not only to drive to Paris but also to set up and manage the hugely complex logistics required to look after the children during the outing.

This year East House, Bancroft's School raised £2500 to sponsor two taxis. Mr Phil Davis, the organising force behind the Magical taxi tour, was coincidentally a Bancroftian parent, whose children had been in East House. Ronnie Henderson, the Head of East House, represented the pupils in seeing the convoy off.

The start was preceded by a breakfast at Canary Wharf. The Lord Mayor attended and gave a send off speech; he managed to avoid saying, but others did not, 'You can never get a taxi to take you south of the Channel and then two hundred turn up.’ At 8.00am the convoy, packed with children, parents and toys, set off for its long journey to France.

The Bancroft's School badge, which is also the Drapers' coat of arms, was recognised by many of the taxi drivers who clearly knew the bit of the Woodford High Road where Bancroft's is sited.

A great achievement and a most impressive effort by our sister livery of Hackney Carriage Drivers and, more particularly, East House, Bancroft's School.'


The portrait of Sir Robert Clayton before cleaning.  He is now looks much cleaner and slightly less bilious.  The details of the sword and curiously shaped white fur hat on the table are also now much clearer.  The white fur hat was the precusor to a natty mink item worn by the Swordbearer to the Lord Mayor. 
The Heritage Advisory Committee met on 22 September, the first time in the Company Year.  The Committee's Chairman is this year's Second Master Warden, Lady Victoria Leatham, supported by Past Master Sir Michael Craig-Cooper and Liverymen Mark Cazalet, an artist, and Loiuse Banks, an interior designer.  Jonathan Miles is the works of art advisor and Paul Vonberg the consultant architect.  Penny Fussell, our archivist, is the committee's secretary.

The committee has oversight of both the Hall and its treasures to ensure that our very considerable heritage, of which we are trustees, is maintained and developed.

Before the meeting began we examined the portrait of Sir Robert Clayton that had been subject to extensive cleaning and restoration under the supervision of Jonathan Miles. The picture above shows it in its pre-cleaned state.  It also does not show its frame.  It is a large picture, about two thirds life size, and now looks considerably better with much of the detail considerably clearer.  The frame has also been restored and some injudicious alteration of the canvas carried out possibly fifty years ago put right.  I hope to have an image of the picture in its restored condition in due course.

Sir Robert Clayton (1629–1707) was a major City personality of the late seventeeth century.  A very successful merchant banker he was a member of both the Scriveners' and Drapers' Company, an Alderman of Cheap Ward in the City of London (1670–1683), a Sheriff in 1671, Lord Mayor of London (1679–1680), a Member of Parliament for the City of London (1678–1681), President of the Honourable Artillery Company (1690–1703), Commissioner of the Customs (1689–1697), an Assistant to the Royal African Company (1672–1681) a director of the Bank of England (1702–1707) and much else besides. 

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Although not really part of the Master Draper story I went to a most heartwarming and positive dinner on Friday night that might be of interest. 

Abandoning temporarily my City duties I travelled out to Southend for the sixth Association of Community Rail Partnerships  (ACoRP for short) Community Rail Awards held at the the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea.

ACoRP is a small group that aims to bring new life for rural lines.  They do this by setting up partnerships that help make stations and services more attractive by enlisting volunteer support, encourage local businesses to play a part and nurture links with the railway industry.  More details are at 

I have been associated with the community rail movement since it gathered momentum about ten years ago.  At the first two Rail Awards in 2005/6 I helped give out the prizes.

It now follows on from the National Rail Awards of the previous week - I am one of the judges for these. The two events could not be more different. National Rail Awards, rightly, focusses on big business and is a glitzy celebration of the industry. The Community Rail Awards recognise a deeper strand of the the nation's relationship with it railways. The Conservatives may talk a lot about the big society and localism. Community rail has got there already.

Compared with a Park Lane event production values were a lot less lavish but it was, in the true spirit of community rail, a fun evening staged by an enthusiatic and able team on a shoe-string budget.

Overall a great evening. Neil Buxton and his willing band of helpers made the evening a great success. Yet again they did a great job to show how railways and the community can work together.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Bancroft's School, founded in 1737 by the Drapers' Company as trustees of Francis Bancroft's will, is today a highly successful co-educational independent school.  See for further details.

The close links between the between the school and the Company continue on many levels.  One small manifestation of these ties is that two governors' meetings a year are held at the Hall.  Traditionally the Master is in attendance at these meetings.  In the past the Master was styled as the Visitor.  However when Professor Graham Zellick was Master last year he pointed out that this title raised some interesting and probably unresolvable legal issues.  So this year I attend in an untitled, and possibly a little uncertain, capacity.

The Chairman of Governors, who is always a Draper, is currently Past Master Stephen Foakes.  I was chairman of governors from 2003 to 2008 immediately before him.  Caroline Bonnor-Moris, Dr Colette Bowe and Craig Tallents are also Drapers' governors out of a total of some fifteen also drawn from London Borough of Redbridge, Essex County Council, the Old Bancroftians and the local community, some of whom have sent children to the school.

I had not attended a Bancroft's School meeting since November 2008 when I stood down to devote my time to Drapers' Academy.  It was heartening to see that the school still makes excellent progress under the leadership of the Head, Mary Ireland, and a whole range of intiatives that will continue to improve the school are being actively and enthusiastically developed by the governors and the senior leadership team.


The Company has been Patrons of St Michael, Cornhill for just over half a millenium.  The present incumbent, since 1998, is Rev Peter Mullen.  For further details see

We recently discovered that his fortieth anniversary of ordination occurred this autumn.  It was decided to celebrate this auspicious event by holding a celebratory church service followed by a reception at Drapers' Hall.  The other livery companies associated with St Michael's, Cornhill - Merchant Taylors, Cutlers, Woolmen, Air Pilots and Navigators, Chartered Secretaries, Fuellers, and Water Conservators - also asked to be involved in, and generously contributed to, the evening's celebrations.

The first part of the evening was a splendid mass, which featured some of Peter's particular Mozartian favourites, beautifully sung.  At the conclusion of the service we then moved to Drapers' Hall.  There was a wide attendance of the livery companies involved and the congregation of St Michael's.

In a short speech during the reception with I took the liberty of  comparing Peter to Blessed John Henry Newman, of whom he is a great admirer.  I know he would be far too modest to want to do this in any way but I felt it was only right to point out that both are men determined faith.  It is also a certainty that determined faith will often result in uncomfortable situations and it is certainly a difficult personal path to follow.  But, and looking round those who had come to the service and the reception, it was clear to be such a protagonist in life’s spiritual struggle wins great admiration, respect and friendship.

An evening that was both spritual and enjoyable and brought the wider City community together.


On Sunday 19 September Drapers' Hall was open to the public for free as part of the City of London Open House programme.  This scheme encourages those who own distinctive properties across the City, that are not usually accessible to the public, to open on the same weekend in September.  This year some eighty City buildings were in the scheme.  This is the second time we have been involved having joined the scheme last year.

London Open House 2010, looking down the corridor into Throgmorton Street packed with visitors.
Yet again the Hall proved a very popular attraction.  Between 10.00am and 3.30pm over 1700 visitors thronged through the public rooms.  To many the Hall and its contents came as a completely unexpected discovery.  This is not surprising as the building is largely hidden behind offices and shops and the entrances to the Hall are very unobtrusive and give little indication of the sumptuously decorated public rooms hidden inside.  However a significant minority were extremely knowledgable and asked questions that required the encyclopaedic knowledge of our Archivist, Penny Fussell, to be fully deployed.

As last year members of the livery and freedom worked in shifts to act as guides who were not only in a position to answer any questions about the rooms - one or two admitted to a very sharp learning curve - but also to explain something about the Company.  Nearly thirty were involved and all remarked on what a worthwhile day it had been.  Without exception first-time visitors were bowled over by the rooms and those who knew about the Hall, however superficially, were keen to renew and deepen their knowledge of it.  Also it allowed those of us who use the Hall regularly to view it through new eyes and better appreciate our unique heritage.

Friday, 17 September 2010


Each September one of FODAH's (Friends of Drapers' AlmsHouses) activities is to organise an outing for the residents of the almshouses.  This is generously funded by the Company.  For some reason, although it takes place in September, it seems to have acquired the name of the Summer Outing. 
Junos and the Paycock. A peacock comes to meet the Edmonsons Close team while they wait for transport up to Leeds Castle.  I think it was entirely courteous curiosity on his part.  From left to right Mrs Margaret Beckford, Mrs Flo Lammas, Mrs Jessie Edmunds and Mrs Dot Quashie

Surveying the estate.  Ben Thompson-McCausland (right), who leads the FODAH group covering Walters Close, and myself on the restaurant open air deck with Leeds Castle in the background.
With thanks to Herry Lawford for the photograph

The normal pattern is to go to the seaside every alternate year with an inland destination between.  The only essential criterion is that it should be less than a two hour coach journey.  This year we decided to visit beautiful Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent.

On Wednesday some thirty residents, Mavia Wedderburn the Warden, myself and liverymen Bruce Hopking and Ben Thompson-McCausland boarded the coach at Edmonson's Close at 9.30.  We arrived at Leeds Castle around 11.00am and were met by Liverymen Herry Lawford, who leads the Edmonson's FODAH team, and Christopher Barker.

The day went very well.  There are four key ingredients to a good FODAH outing.  These are: a stress free journey, a really attractive and interesting place to visit, good value and pleasant restaurants and coffee opportunities and, finally, good weather.  All four were fully met.

As the afternoon drew to a close we set off back to Edmonsons we reflected on a most enjoyable day.  Next week it is a joint outing by Walters and Quen Elizabeth College to the same location.  I cannot make that outing but am certain it will be just an enjoyable.

My thanks to Lynda Lampshire at the Hall for the faultless organisation of the day and thanks to Mavia and the Drapers for supporting the outing, there was a degree of wheelchair work required so that all could appreciate the day. 


One of my interest is coins and I have decided to put on two coin exhibitions at the Hall this year.  The first will be an examination of Drapers and their interest in the Anglo-Saxon world and the second will look at token coins issued in the 1660s by various tradesmen across England using the Drapers' Company coat of arms, many of them were not even Drapers.

Not even the most enthusiastic Draper would claim certain certain antecedents for the Company before 1066 and the world of our Anglo-Saxon forebears although it is quite possible that the earliest origins of the Company are from that period.

William Lambarde
However, just under 350 years ago William Lambarde (1536 – 1601) a liveryman (for further details see the William Lambards page of this blog)published in 1568 a collection of Anglo-Saxon laws called Archaionomia (Greek for ‘original laws’). This was ground breaking work. It reflected a revival of interest in Anglo-Saxon England, as well as a recognition that, among the ancient documents that had been dispersed following the dissolution of the monasteries, was key evidence from our distant past.

Lambarde, having painstakingly taught himself Anglo-Saxon, demonstrated that the basis of much of England’s Common Law derived from pre-Norman sources. He also went on to discover a great deal more about Anglo Saxon England.

Lambarde is best remembered in the Company for having founded the Queen Elizabeth College almshouse in Greenwich in 1576. Portraits of his descendants are also displayed in the Hall entrance from Throgmorton Street.

Since Lambarde first stimulated interest our understanding of, Anglo-Saxon England has significantly increased. One of the principal ways that has been achieved has been through the discovery and interpretation of coin finds, both individually and in hoards. These discoveries have revealed the best organised coinage system in Europe at the time and have furthermore shed deep insight into the culture, politics and art of the earliest English societies.

A remarkable bearded portrait of Emperor Constans II and his son, Constantine - later Constantine IV,  on a gold solidus minted in Constantinople circa 660.  Unsurprisingly Constans has the soubriquet of  Kōnstantinos Pogonatos 'Constans the Bearded.'  Constans found the pressure of ruling from Constaninople as the Islamic expansion was at its apogee almost too difficult to bear and suffered a series of defeats.  In later life he moved his court in Syracuse where his life was ended being murderd by his chamberlain while he was bathing.
(illustration twice normal size)
This has made it of great interest not only to academics but also to collectors. One such a century ago was William C Boyd (1840-1906) who was Master in 1898. After his death his collection remained untouched to be sold in London 99 years after death in September 2005.
The first type of king Canute (1017-1035) minted circa 1020.  The type is known by academics and collectors as Quatrefoil from the pattern of lines enclosing the king's head and on the reverse.  On the left hand illustration the king's bust - it is not in any way representational, unlike the earlier coin of Byzantine emperor Constans above -  isv surrounded by his his name and title CNVTREXANGLO starting ar six o'clock. The engraver has got the letters V and A inverted, this is quite commonplace on Norwich coins.  The reverse reads EFICONNORÐÞ translates as moneyer Efic of, rendered on Anglo-Saxon as 'on', Norwich.  Shortened versions of town names were used with the letter D with a line through to representing 'th' and P representing W.  The reading is thus NORTHW for Northwich the Anglo-Saxon rendering of the town name.   This coin is from a large hoard that was found in Cambridge around 1995.  It  was deposited in 1035 when there was considerable instability as Canute's sons, Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, struggled for succession.
(illustration twice normal size)

A silver penny of Alfred's son Edward the Elder (899-924) - his title is on the left hand ilustration and reads from the top as EADVVEARDREX.  This coin was part of a hoard of about one hundred coins discovered at Brantham, Suffolk in 2003. This simple design is known, possibly confusingly, as Two Line and was a standard pattern of coin design for nearly a hundred years between 885 and 975.  The two lines refer to the moneyer's name - in this case Gunter, on the top and bottom line of the right hand illustration which reads GVN inverted T and ER MO, the latter two letters a contraction of moneta, Latin for moneyer. The large, coarse lettering is an indication that this is a coin minted in East Anglia, possibly Ipswich, shortly after the reconquest of the area by the English.  This coin can thus be dated at shortly after 920, late in Edward's  reign.
(illustration twice normal size)
When the Danes conquered East Anglia in 869 they brutally murdered the last English king, Edmund.  He was beatified by the subjugated English and Bury St Edmunds soon became a place of pilgrimage and miracle working.  Once the Danish settlers had converted to Christianity they quickly seem to have regarded him as a powerful protecting saint.  The original responsibilty as to who caused his martyrdom in the first place was seemingly managed in this transition.  His status as protector of the East Anglians is reflected in a complex series of East Anglian coins known as St Edmund Memorial coinage minted between 890 and 920.  This is a very late example from the last days of Danish East Anglia .  The left hand illustration reads SCEADN, a contraction of Sanctus Edmund.  The capital A in the centre was the symbol of an independent East Anglia used on coins from around 800 by both English and Danes.  The right illustration has what is probably a moneyer's name but DATDOI is meaningless and remains a mystery.  This coin is one of a parcel of 44 that came onto the London market in the mid 1990s and is assumed to have been found in Essex or Suffolk.
(illustration twice normal size)

I am also a collector of this series and the Hall display cabinets currently include a selection from my collection demonstrating both the development of coinage in Europe from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the mid-fifth century and hoards found in England and France containing coins dating from the mid ninth to the mid eleventh centuries.  A few coins from my collection, and the stories about them, are illustrated on this post.  Do have a look at the real thing if you are at the Hall.

In the late eighth century the southern kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England introduced a broad flan silver penny coinage based on those issued by Charlemagne and his successors in Francia.  The Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, with its capital a York, did not have the economic resources to do this and issued a base metal coinage known today -but probably not at the time- as stycas.  This is one was found in York in 1842 when the railway station was being expanded and is issued by king Eanred (his name is on the left hand illustration, the first E is the wrong way round) by a prolific moneyer called Monne around 850.
(illustration twice normal size)
A silver penny possibly minted at York by an unknown King Canute around 900 - CNVTREX is scattered somewhat haphazardly around an inverted patriachal cross on the left hand illustration.  This Cnut is not to be confused with the one who allegedly tried to rule the tides of a 120 years later.  This coin is from the great Cuerdale Hoard discovered in 1840 on the banks of the Ribble in Lancashire. This remains the largest single early medieval hoard discovered and is thought to be a Viking chief's treasure chest, surprisingly mislaid on a journey from York to Dublin (or vice versa).  The coin has never been in circulation, in common with many other Cuerdale hoard coins, and still has some of its thousand year old mint lustre.  A final mystery: the inscriptioin CVNNETTI on the right hand illustration has never been satisfactorily explained.
(illustration twice normal size)

Saturday, 11 September 2010


The Romford Recorder's 10 September report on the afternoon opening party.  Text is below for clarity

'Grand opening: Drapers Academy

The curtain was finally raised on the Draper's Academy this week heralding a new beginning for education in Harold Hill.

An open day welcomed hundreds of parents and pupils on Tuesday to mark the official first day of school.

Head teacher Matthew Slater said he hopes it signals the "start of an amazing educational journey".

On the site of the old Kings Wood, it is the first academy to open in Havering, which is a joint venture by the Drapers' Company and Queen Mary University.

Mr Slater said: "The aim is to make Drapers' Academy the first choice school for all the families in Harold Hill, and to do that we need to provide first-class education for our pupils and generations of pupils to come."

All involved breathed a huge sigh of relief earlier this year when it was announced that a £27 million rebuilding project planned to be finished in 2012 would not fall victim to government cuts.

Staff staged the open day attended by the Metropolitan Police, Army, firefighters, local dignitaries, families and featured a performance by X-Factor singer Rachel Adedeji.

The current number of pupils for the senior school is 500 but that is expected to rise to more than 1,100 including a sixth form.

Mr Slater added: "We are encouraged to be risk-takers but our education system is about traditional values, respect and discipline.'

Rachel Adedeji was a really popular star and her performance went down really well.  The launch of the blue and yellow ballooons (the colours of both Quen Mary and the Drapers' Company and now the Drapers' Academy) was most impressive.

Friday, 10 September 2010


Drapers' Academy really got started on 7 September with a day of celebration before the term got underway on Wednesday. The afternoon saw a party for the children and families betwen midday and 3pm. Over three hundred people came. I am having difficulties in the remote part of Wiltshire getting images squeezed through the internet so a full description will have to wait until this is sorted out.

The party well under way

Colonel Mike Bryant, Deputy Lieutenant
London Borough of Havering and Colonel North East London Army Cadet Force with prefects
At 6.30pm there was another party to invite all those who had helped the Academy come into being. This not only included many of the staff but also local representatives and, of course, contingents from the Drapers' Company and Queen Mary. It was also great to see the newly appointed head girl and boy and the prefects with their families. The new uniforms looked great and seem to have gone down well.

Jane, Lady Dalton, Past Master Sir Geoffrey
Dalton and Nadia, Lady Jackson
Susan Jackson who has been with us
for the last two years mentoring and managing the Drapers' Academy programme. We are very grateful for all she has done for us.
Short speeches of welcome were made by myself, in the joint capacity of Master Draper and Chair of Governors, Professor Morag Shiach, Vice Chair of Governors from Queen Mary, and finally Councillor Michael White, Leader of Council. Matthew Slater the Principal gave a spirited introduction. It concluded with my giving a presentation from the Company to buy a clavicord and this was followed by the ceremonial cutting of a huge Drapers' Academy     cake and a toast to the success of the Academy.

Cllr Michael White, Leader
Havering Council and

After a huge amount of preparation by Sue Monk, Vice Principal (Inclusion and Learning) and many helpers the whole day went off exceptionally well. The levels of interest, support and enthusiasm towards the Academy are highly gratifying and we now have high expectations to live up to.

Matthew Slater and a member of staff with very young recruit
A small disappointment was that the prefects had to hand in their badges of office at the end of the party to be re-awarded at assembly the next day.

Cllr Keth Wells, Gooshays Ward, Past Master and Academy Governor James Devereux and Liveryman Dr Colette Bowe, past Chair of Queen Mary Council. 

Prefects and cake

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The new signboard up on Settle Road in front of South Building 
A target set just over two years ago has now been achieved: Drapers' Academy is open.  There was the last minute flurry to get documents signed off, an inevitable outcome with the number of parties and lawyers involved, but also a reflection of the last minute hitches that resulted from a month's delay caused by Michael Gove's academies review.  But last night, around 7pm, everything was in place.

The Academy pupils will not arrive until next week.  Matthew Slater, who can now call himself Principal for the first time today, is in the interim holding a series of 'inset' days with the Academy team to prepare for what is going to be a series of major changes.

Although we are pleased that a large number of the former King's Wood staff are transferring across, there will be a number of new faces at the Academy today including quite sizeable contingents of new teachers from Canada and Eire.  All this means a lot of organisational and timetable change.

There is also a lot to do to prepare for the new-build.  We are now totally confident that the contract will be signed off this month.  This will require the closure of the King's Wood North Building at half-term so that it can be demolished to make way for the new buildings.  Also the slightly delayed temporary accommodation programme, that will provide new science teaching and girls' changing facilities, will now have to be delivered and fitted out during termtime. 

We are delighted that King's Wood closed with a great set of GCSE results.  65% of the 106 pupils who sat the exam got at least five passes A* to C and 42% achieved the same number of passes but included English and Maths.  This was the best result ever and a huge jump from the previous year.  Not only does it reflect very well on the King's Wood team but also provides a sound basis for our ambition to raise standards significantly over the next few years.

On the new build the final planning hurdles were cleared on 26 August.  There was unanimous agreement by the Planning Committee that we could go ahead and all the hard work and preparation of the past eighteen months finally paid off.  Nearly everything is now in place for Partnership for Schools to agree that the contract should be signed before the end of the month.  Work on site will start after half-term.

Finally, the shop at 67 Farnham Road in the Harold Hill shopping centre closed yesterday.  It served its purpose well and for a few, key months became the focus of Academy activity on the 'Hill.'  I shall miss the opportunity to pay the occasional visit to Percy Ingle's cafe next door.   

The months of planning are now over.  The first chapter of the Academy, that started in June 2008 when we first saw the site, is now complete.   It has been a fascinating journey where we have learnt a great deal.  What is particularly important is that our initial belief that we had found the right place for both sponsors to make a real and succesful contribution has been continuously reinforced as we have got to know the community, children, the London Borough of Havering and the staff of King's Wood School better.