Sunday, 17 July 2011


Coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers
On Thursday I went to the last company dinner outside the Hall in my year as Master - there are still two more to go at the Hall before I stand down on midnight 23/24 July. 

I was particularly pleased that this dinner was that held by the Leathersellers.  They are a very active Company with a wide interest in education - particularly Colfe's School and the Leathersellers' Schools Federation in the London Borough of Lewisham - and care of the elderly, as well as support to their trade.  For more details go to

Currently the Company is redeveloping their Bishopsgate site and in the process the existing hall is being demolished and will re-open in 2015 on the same site.  This will be the first purpose-built City livery hall in the twenty-first century; a most interesting challenge.  In the meantime the Company is pursuing a peripatetic existence and on Thursday we dined at Saddlers' Hall.

The current Master, Nigel Pullman, is a very active participant in the livery movement and has been a welcome companion throughout my Master's year.  The Leathersellers were most hospitable and my last outside company dinner as Master was just as it should be.


At Edmanson's Close I explain the story of the medal before making presentations.  The room is the combined social club and chapel.  Photograph with thanks to Herry Lawford.
On Thursday I presented Drapers' Company Medals at the Company's three almshouses.  Alastair Ross, the Clerk, came with me.  We visited Queen Elizabeth College and Walter's Close in the morning and Edmanson's Close in the afternoon.  Readers of this blog will know that residents of the almshouses over 85 and who have lived in a Drapers' almshouse for five years are eligible to receive the medal.

At each site I explained about the decision to reinstitute the medal after a hundred years or so and the further decision to present it to residents.  I then presented the medals to those who were well enough to receive them.  I also made special visits to those who felt they could no leave their cottages or flats.

At each almshouse we were given excellent tea and cakes and it was good to catch up with the residents' stories.  Past Master Sir Nicholas Jackson was with us at Queen Elizabeth College and Liveryman Herry Lawford at Edmanson's Close.

I sensed the presentations were popular.  The medals are individually named and are thus a real link between the Company and the individual recipient.  They are also a token of the Company's ongoing commitment as trustees of the various almshouses.
Alastair and myself just about to leave Edmanson's Close.  Photograph with thanks to Herry Lawford.


We held our final Governors' meeting of the first year of Drapers' Academy on 12 July.  Still lots of challenges but we all thought that not only were we making progress but the future looked most promising.

After the holidays the highlights of next term will be:

The largest entry for some time for the school on the site with some 110 children entering Year 7.  This is over twenty up on last year.

Work starting in setting up the exciting sixth form that will open in September 2012. 

A topping out ceremony for the new buildings within the next eight weeks.  This is a major step forward with the project.  The shape and size of the building will become increasingly evident over the next few months.

Selling the Academy to the local community for Year 7 and sixth form entry in September 2012 in the Autumn schools round.

Lots of improvements to the curriculum, including more music teaching for Year 7s.

Matthew Slater, the Principal, and his team have put in a huge amount of work this year and the results of this will become increasingly evident over the next few terms.

Now it is time for the staff and pupils to have a well-earned break and my best wishes to Year 11 leavers who were, unfortunately, the only year group at the Academy not to benefit from our new sixth form..


Coat of Arms of the Carmen's Company
Each year the Carmen hold a cartmarking ceremony in Guildhall Yard to maintain an ancient tradition that required the Company to licence carts that plied for trade in the City.  This was both to regulate numbers in the crowded streets of the City and to ensure that owners 'heeded the rules of the day.'

One of the cart marking boards that are attached to the vehicles.  This one shows that the vehicle has been recorded at the cartmarking ceremony every year for the last decade or so.  I am indebted for this and the subsequent picture to my fellow Master Marketor blogger.
The cart marking ceremony has now metamorphosed into a parade of vehicles, the majority owned and in some cases operated by Carmen, that are each driven into Guildhall Yard and ceremonially marked on a wooden board with a hot branding iron.  This year the letter was T.

A horse drawn pantechnicon that was designed to travel by rail, the top boards can be folded down for this purpose.  The vehicle is owned by the Gerson family still active in the business, but now operating as ICM Gerson, and on the livery.  Again thanks to the Master Marketor for this picture.
I have been a member of the Company since 1997 but this was only the third cartmarking ceremony I have attended.  It seems to get larger each year and there were 48 entrants ranging from handcarts to large modern tractor units and including horse, diesel, petrol and steam powered vehicles.

It was a most interesting morning with some splendid vehicles on display.

For more details about the Carmen's Company go to

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


On Monday the final vote for the election of sheriffs was received.  In alphabetical order they were:

Nicholas Bonham- Citizen and Pewterer - 549 votes
Wendy Mead- Citizen and Glover - 693 votes
Andrew Stephen Whitton - Citizen and Needlemaker - 40 votes: although Andrew appeared on the ballot paper readers of this blog will know that he had withdrawn from the race.  It was thus a most quixotic gesture from those who voted for him.
Alan Colin Drake Yarrow - Alderman and Fishmonger - 1044 votes

The end result exactly mirrors the Common Hall voting but with a clearer margin for Wendy Mead over Nick Bonham.  On balance I think this was the best outcome.  So next year's Aldermanic Sheriff will be Alan Yarrow with Wendy Mead as Lay Sheriff.


Gareth Clutton's (1960-2011) memorial service was held at St Sepulchre without Newgate in Friday.  St Sepulchre's is the largest City parish church and a centre for music as the National Musicians' Church (For more details go to ). It is linked to St Michael's Cornhill as Rev Peter Mullen holds both benefices.

As predicted by the Evening Standard (See earlier blog) there was a very substantial turnout drawn from Gareth's family and wide circle of friends.  The church was full.  Moving the service from the smaller St Michael's to St Sepulchre's was the right decision.

Fiona gave a most moving, yet beautifully constructed, personal tribute to her husband and two of their children, Anna and Rafe, read.  Richard Jonas, who until very recently was Master Clothworker and a fellow partner of Gareth's at Cluttons, also contributed a reading.

Richard Lay, in his capacity as Chairman of the Portman Estate, gave the professional address.  He painted a picture of Gareth that many of us knew along with insights that many of us were not aware.  He described Gareth's life before becoming a surveyor where he had initially tried almost everything to avoid becoming the seventh generation Clutton in his family firm and finished with his appointment to be Chief Executive of the Portman Estate.  Garetth had remarked to Richard that he felt more at ease in a boardroom furnished with portraits of Portmans rather than one where past generations of Cluttons looked down.

Afterwards a very well-attended reception was held at the Hall.  It was a day of emotion but also one of pleasure in seeing so many who respected, admired and liked Gareth coming together to remember him. 

Sunday, 10 July 2011


In general conversations with friends and acquaintances, many of whom I have known for many years, I discover they have links with the Company that they had never mentioned to me before I told them I was Master Draper.

One particular meeting is as good example as any.  I was on the Bakerloo coming in from Paddington when I bumped into a very senior civil servant, now retired.  On mentioning the Drapers' Company his immediately recounted, with evident enthusiasm, that his best economics lecturer at Oxford, and one who had stimulated his interest in the subject, was a Drapers' Fellow from Hertford College.

It just goes to show how Drapers' benefactions reach out in the most interesting directions.


Tessa Sanderson CBE who won a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with a record throw 69.56m.
The Drapers' Academy held its first Sports Awards ceremony on Thursday evening and we were delighted that Tessa Sanderson CBE was able to present the prizes.  Tessa runs The Tessa Sanderson Foundation and Academy in nearby Newham.  It is a charity to help youngsters who are disabled and non-disabled achieve their goals and create opportunities.  For more details go to

She is a highly inspirational speaker and gave an edge of the seat description on the way she won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles against the top competition, including Fatima Whitbread, with an Olympic record throw that proved to be unbeatable. She brought her gold medal along to prove she had won! She also gave a frank account of her desire to succeed, despite coming from a relatively disadvantaged background.

Although the principal purpose of the Academy is not sport focused we are keen to see children enjoy sport.  This year facilities have been somewhat limited as the grounds are being completely dug up and remodelled.  However from late 2012 some excellent facilities will become available across the Academy's twenty-two acre site.

There are some promising sportsmen and women and my congratulations go to Year 8 Boys who won the London School's hockey and the Year 11 boys won the seven-a-side football category in the same competition.  And to pick out a few names of the best: Frederick Bamgbelu (New school record for 300m and relay), Nicola Coutts (New school record for 200m and High Jump) and Joe Moss, David Oni and Gracian Wojciechowski who formed part of the record beating boys' relay team.

A great evening with lots of spirit in evidence.  My congratulations to the PE Faculty for setting all this up  Finally, it was especially good that at the end of the evening the Academy Sports Personality Award was officially renamed the Mayes Cup.  Susan Mayes is retiring after many years at the Academy, and its predecessor schools, teaching PE and in wider leadership roles.  She has given much of her career to help Harold Hill children.  She has also been a strong supporter of the Academy from its earliest stages and this has been of great help.  The name change was a well kept secret and came as a complete, but pleasant, surprise to Susan.


Each year, at the beginning of July, the Company holds a service at St Michael's Cornhill to celebrate both the continuation of the Company across the centuries and the generosity of our many benefactors.

The service is conducted by the Company's Chaplain who followers of this blog will know this year is the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.  The Rev Peter Mullen, Rector of St Michael's also laid on the service in St Michael's special way with an excellent choir. 

Bishop Nigel gave an excellent sermon on the subject of charity.  He noted the great irony that some of the greatest charitable donations are made by those who may be considered the greatest sinners.  This is a characteristic known to the Drapers' Company.  Although many of our benefactors doubtless lived blameless and worthy lives a number did not. 

My favourite example is that of Francis Bancroft, who in his life had the reputation of being a hard nosed lawyer quite unembarrassed in demanding bribes.  He was held in such low esteem that during his funeral procession in the early 1730s the City mob tried to tip him out of his coffin as it was borne through the streets of London.  Nevertheless he died a bachelor and gave most of his worldly wealth to the Company and today two great institutions can trace their roots to his generosity: Bancroft's School and Queen Mary, University of London which occupies the original site of his benefaction and faces the Bancroft Arms pub across the Mile End Road.

The church was full with members of the Drapers' family.  Court members, the Livery and Freedom as well as residents from the almshouses, representatives from the Company's Schools and Universities.  There was a chance to meet everyone at the buffet lunch at the Hall that followed.


The attractively made Innholders' sign that hangs above the entrance to their Hall in College Street situated between the Thames and St Pauls.
I now increasingly feel like a participant in Logan's Run - for those of my readers who do not know the plot of this sci-fi story where those over thirty are destroyed good ole Wikipedia can provide the necessary details.  Most of the Masters' year of office starts in July.  Some are already gone and most have a week or two left.  New faces are appearing wearing familiar badges. The Innholders' Dinner was the first of these where change was increasingly apparent.

The Innholders still have extensive links with the hotel and catering sector.  For more details about the Company go to

A most agreeable evening but one where it is now clear that one's days as Master are now very few.

The flashing palm crystal that tells the inhabitants of the world of Logan's Run that time is up and they are to be eliminated.  Incidentally these covers remind me of my long passed teenage interest in science fiction.  In retrospect although it contained some great ideas it was normally very badly written with only the most limited characterisation..


John Freestone in his Beadle's uniform and carrying his staff of office at the top of the Livery Hall staircase.  The Beadle part of his duties are these days essentially ceremonial but three or four decades ago the Beadle had a wide range of duties including administering the almshouses, relationships with schools and assisting the Clerk in the conduct of a wide range of business.
After seventeen outstanding years as the Company's Beadle, where he has principally led the Hall catering and banqueting team, John Freestone has decided to move on and try his hand as Clerk to the Paviors' Company.

John had extensive experience working in top West End hotels and clubs before moving to the Company.  Over the years he has built up an outstanding reputation as one of the best operators in the City in his field.  He is unfailingly courteous and considerate of his guests' needs and makes everyone feel special.  He also has the knack of running complex events in an unflustered and understated way.  Those who know him know that this is only achieved by an unerring eye for detail and the most meticulous pre-planning.

He is now moving from Beadle to Clerk where I am sure he will be a similar success.  I am most grateful for all he has done in my year as Master and I am certain he will get a memorable send-off at the Election Dinner on 26 July, his final event with the Company.


The latest version of the Drapers' medal using the most recent interpretation of the Company's coat of arms.  The medal is shown about one and a quarter times its actual size.  The reverse has a laurel wreath surrounding a space for naming the recipient and other details. 
There are frequent references in the archives of the Company of medals being awarded or presented, particularly at ceremonial occasions, up to the 1890s.  Thereafter the trail seems to stop, although a commemorative medal was struck for the Company's 600th anniversary in 1938. 
Last year the Court of Wardens in reviewing the Company's gifts and presentations policy decided to reinstitute the medal.  In a competition Fattorini's came up with a simple and elegant design using the latest version of the Company's coat of arms.
It is proposed that the medal should be presented for a number of purposes.  These include school awards, to members of the Company staff for long service and residents of the almshouses.  For the latter those who are over 85 years old and have been resident for at least five years.
I presented the first medal to schools at Bancroft's on Visitation Day on 1 July, see separate post, and on 14 July I shall be visiting the almshouses for a series of presentation ceremonies. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Each year around the beginning of July the Master and Wardens make their annual Visitation to Bancroft's School.  As with all other Company visitations the purpose is now entirely ceremonial.  There is no longer any examination of staff or pupil competence as there was a hundred years ago.  In fact the level and diversity of academic achievement at the school would rule me out as an examiner much above Prep school.  Instead there are many opportunities throughout the day to meet everyone associated with the school including governors, Bancroftians - both at the school and leavers- and staff .

The day started with an excellent musical performance at the Preparatory School that is traditionally intertwined with prizegiving.  We then set off for lunch in the Head's garden.

However I had been asked by Past Master Stephen Foakes, Chairman of Governors, whether I would be prepared to unveil a plaque commemorating the completion of some very handsome art rooms and a study room for the sixth form.  I was, of course, was most honoured.  But as I drew back the black crepe curtain and was about to announce the building open I suddenly realised it was not called the Art and Sixth Form Block but had been re-named the Lyons' Building.  It was a total 'gotcha' moment.  Everyone else was in on the secret and photos will be posted in due course.

It was explained that the reason was that my surname is a lot shorter than using the term Arts and Sixth Form Block. Whatever the reason I am deeply honoured.  I was a governor at the school from 2002 to 2008 and Chairman for most of that period.  It was a time when we embarked on a huge modernisation programme that still continues.  It is a very odd experience to be recognised in this way and I am deeply touched that the governors and staff felt this was an appropriate thing to do.

After lunch it was prizegiving and speeches.  I presented the first Drapers' Company Medal to a school (see another post this month) and also got to have a go on a piece of sports equipment.  (Details follow)

Then it was off to visit exhibits and a final cup of tea and slice of cake.

As is now normal the sun shone throughout the day.  The traditional cricket match ebbed and flowed throughout the morning and afternoon and I had been both deeply surprised and honoured in equal measure.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


At lunchtime on Wednesday I was in Mercers' Hall for the Worshipful Company of Cook's Summer Court Luncheon.  The Cooks still play a part in their trade and support a wide range of cookery initiatives.  For more details of this Company go to   The Company also has the distinction of having the smallest livery of any City company, numbering 75 individuals.  A typical livery, if there be such a thing, is around 250-300 in number.
I have known the Cooks for some time.  Before the formation of the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993 one of its predecessors was the Army Catering Corps and there was a natural affinity between the two organisations.  The Royal Logistic Corps fully supported keeping these linkages going and the Cooks, along with the Carmen, Gold and Sylver Wyre Drawers and Launderers were the original  four.  Since then the list has grown with an increasing number of unit affiliations, such as 151 Regiment RLC(V) with the Marketors.  When I was Head of the Royal Logistic Corps in the late nineties the then Master Cook, Don Hodgson, made me most welcome.

The Company has interesting court members and I found debate about catering and the livery companies particularly interesting.  The Drapers' Company runs its own in-house catering and banqueting organisation and we seek to maintain the highest standards in a competitive market place.  I understand the current Warden, Bev Puxley, is keen to highlight the catering aspects of the livery movement if elected Master next year.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Two extraordinarily enterprising sixth formers at St Paul's School: Alex Bridle and Tom Jackson have set up a most dynamic fundraising programme for Help for Heroes using the line from John Maxwell Edmonds' (1875-1958) World War One poem of the same name as their inspiration.  For more details go to

Tom has a younger brother, Harry, who is a Chorister at St Paul's - in fact he is the Drapers' Chorister.  This family connection led to many hundreds attending a recital held in the cathedral that featured the choristers and Simon Johnson the cathedral organist.  There was a beautiful programme of music ranging from 7th Century plainsong, through Handel and including twentieth century works by Benjamin Britten and John Rutter (born 1945). 

But the highlight was undoubtedly the first performance of Ben Parry's setting of Edmonds' Went the Day Well.  It is a most interesting piece very beautifully constructed and certainly requiring careful listening a number of times to appreciate fully.  Ben had met Alex and Tom when he taught at St Paul's School.  For more details of this interesting and clearly inspirational composer, conductor, teacher and performer go to

Most fundraisers would think that setting up a recital evening with the Duchess of Gloucester as principal guest as well as a large number of City well-wishers, including the Lord Lieutenant of London - Sir David Brewer, would be resting on their well-earned laurels.  But they are driven by their cause and were shortly about to embark on a sponsored cycle ride from John o' Groats to Land's End. Totally impressive.

Incidentally in a brief meeting with the Duchess of Gloucester she recalled her recent visit to Drapers' Academy and was still clearly impressed with the changes the Principal, Matthew Slater, and his team were already achieving in the relatively short time the Academy has been open.

Do support Went the Day Well if you can.


To Guildhall on Friday morning to attend Common Hall for the election of the two Sheriffs and a number of other City officers including the Auditors and the more romantically titled Ale Connors and Bridgemasters.  Every liveryman has a vote.  It was thus a very crowded affair.  Not only was Guildhall's main hall full to capacity but two other adjacent rooms were packed out as well.  In all some 1300 members of the livery were present.  The masters of the 108 companies attend fully robed, entering and leaving Guildhall in a colourful snake.  The Great Twelve masters sit on the dais with the Aldermen, City officials as well as the candidates and their agents.  Although smartly carpeted these days the floors are strewn with scented lavendar to recollect the days when the City was a lot less sanitary.

The ceremony is probably the last surviving where one gets a sense of the public elections that existed before the Great Reform Act of 1832.  The rituals of describing the course of the election in a loud and determined manner by bewigged officials, the candidates making appeals for support and why they should be given the vote and finally a show of hands for each candidate in turn to shouts of 'All'. The only thing missing are the Hogarthesque additions of free flowing ale, outbreaks of fisticuffs, open bribery and the yeomanry ready to ride in an quell any disturbance.  It is much more genteel and honest these days.

The election of the two Sheriffs was the principal focus of interest.  Each Sheriff has similar duties and both spend their year of office based at the Old Bailey. However their subsequent civic careers are different.  One Sheriff is known as the Aldermanic Sheriff and is a junior Alderman standing with the expectation that, after serving, he/she will subsequently be considered for Lord Mayor.  The other appointment, the Lay Sheriff, represents the livery and although sometimes a common councillor of the City this is not a mandatory requirement.  Election to be Lay Sheriff does come with the expectation of further advancement.

This year there was one candidate for Aldermanic Sheriff: Alderman Alan Yarrow, but three for Lay Sheriff: Nick Bonham, Wendy Mead and Andrew Whitton. Readers of this blog will know that I am a supporter of Andrew Whitton but I fear that my support, including blog posts, was not sufficient to make a major difference.  The final count of votes showed Wendy Mead in the lead with 550, Nick Bonham second with 505 and, finally, Andrew with 194. 

The current rules meant that there was no clear result as the leader was not 10% of the total votes cast ahead of the second placed candidate.  So there will be a second round of voting at Guildhall, this time using the more conventional ballot box, on Friday 8 July.  Andrew has done the honorable thing and withdrawn - although for technical reasons his name still appears on the ballot papers - and there will now be a two cornered contest.  I shall not declare my voting intention as to do so would be to embark on a 'party political.' I shall however write after the voting next week with further thoughts and observations.

Incidentally the Ale Connors, Bridgemasters and Auditors were all elected unopposed  Somewhere in the proceedings we were also taken through the Report of the Livery Committee but this was a little-regarded vignette to the main purpose of the morning.

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Michael Gove MP, 'a whirlwind of ideas all delivered with perfect lucidity.'
To give this lunch its full title it was 'To Mark the Continuing Importance of Education to the City and the Nation.'  It was hosted by the Lord Mayor and included a very wide cross-section of guests: CEOs of the big City-based companies, Livery Companies with a major involvement in education, heads of major schools with a City or Livery link, representatives from a wide variety of educational charities as well as representatives from the civic City.  Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, was the principal guest and speaker.   David Levin, headmaster City of London School and currently Chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference - the first time a head of the City of London School has held this appointment - also spoke.

Michael Gove continues to be a whirlwind of ideas all delivered with perfect lucidity. His particular theme at the lunch was that the independent sector must do more to help raise standards in the less well performing maintained schools.  In fact the Livery Companies do a lot already and the Mercers and Haberdashers were singled out in the Economist's Bagehot column on 25 June as being leaders in this field.  The Drapers do not run education on the scale of either of these fellow members of the Great XII.  Nevertheless even though our Drapers' Academy is not quite a year old we are already beginning to see links develop with Bancroft's School as well as with other Drapers' schools and universities further away.  

Those who have read this blog from its start last summer will recall that Michael Gove, in his first few weeks in office, certainly caused us considerable disquiet when it appeared that he might cancel the Drapers' Academy new buildings.  At that time he was not particularly popular - a measured understatement - with the Academy project team.  But this is now all behind us.  I do not agree with everything he says but his robust and consistent championing of good education for everyone and the action he is taking to achieve it has been of considerable help in our work at the Academy over the past year.

Friday, 24 June 2011


One of the livery movement's more distinctive companies are the Hackney Carriage Drivers.  Esssentially the only way you can join the Company is to have passed the 'knowledge', the unique test that requires every black cab driver to have an encyclopaedic recollecrtion of all the streets within six miles of Charing Cross. 

The Company is very active chartiably and, in particular, organises the Magical Taxi Tour annual trip to Eurodisney for children, and their families, who are bravely fighting serious medical conditions.  Longstanding readers of this blog will recall I saw the departure of the last outing to Paris from Canary Wharf some ten months ago.  For more details of the Company go to their interesting website and the Magical Taxi Tour at

On Thursday Rosemary and I were invited to attend the Company's Founders Day Dinner that was held at Drapers' Hall.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts where I have been a guest in my own Hall it was a most relaxing and enjoyable experience.

The guest speaker was Sir Christopher Meyer who is probably best known when he was our ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003 and his subsequent book on his experiences DC Confidential. As was to be expected he was a tremendous raconteur covering a huge range of topics and ideas with wit and pace. 

I particularly liked an anecdote from Blair's first visit to see George Bush.  It had started very well.  So much so that Bush stayed up after 10.30pm, which was most unusual, to watch a film with Tony Blair.  It was Meet the Fockers.  In the opening sequence of the film when it became clear that the hero was called Gaylord Focker Bush went into hysterical fits of laughter almost choking on the popcorn served in special buckets bearing the presidential seal.

Master Jim Rainbird is having a most successful year leading his Company and both Rosemary and I much enjoyed being the guests of such a friendly and effective company.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


There is every prospect that Common Hall tomorrow is going to be a crowded affair.  There are three runners for Lay Sheriff and although all are excellent candidates I think Andrew Whitton should be the livery's choice.

Whatever the outcome it should be an interesting day tomorrow around midday but I hope you raise your hand for Whitton.

I am required under the rules of the elections to add the following: although the precise wording, particularly the use of the word printing does not seem to have kept up with the advent of the blogosphere.
Promoted, printed and published by Pauline Halliday OBE, 12, Somerset House, Somerset Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5JA. On behalf of Andrew Whitton, Flat 1, No.1, Hayes Place, London NW1 6UE


On Wednesday I was invited by Professor David Bland OBE, Master Firefighter, to a Master's Reception and Supper at Winchester House, Southwark.  I was delighted to accept, particularly because David is also a member of the St Michael's, Cornhill Parochial Church Council.  For more information about the Firefighters' Company go to
An all-Victorian hero.  Sir Eyre Massey Shaw in his full regalia as a fireman and sporting a splendid array of facial hair that would probably be completely unacceptable on Elf and Safety grounds in these less flamboyant times.
A bit of explanation in that Winchester House is the former home of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, the first Chief Officer of the Metropolitan (later London) Fire Brigade in it critical formative years between 1861 to 1891.  He was a great showman and socialite and much enjoyed encouraging Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, attending fires dressed in an 'improved' and most glamorous fireman's uniform.  Eventually Queen Victoria forbade these escapades.

Over the years Winchester House and adjoining buildings have become the home of the London Fire Brigade's Museum.  For more details go to

Shaw is best known today as the 'Captain Shaw' to whom the Fairy Queen in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe addresses herself, wondering if his 'brigade with cold cascade' - clearly Freud had yet to be invented -could quench her great love. Shaw was present in the stalls at the first night of Iolanthe in 1882, and Alice Barnett playing the Fairy Queen, addressed herself directly to him. Legend has it that he stood up and took a bow. Incidentally until I was told the story I always thought it was the Fairy Queen was making a general statement addressed to an impersonal 'captain sure.'  I now know better.

The museum is well worth a visit.  Yet again it brought back a lot of memories.  My responsibilities in the Army on a number of occasions included control of Army Fire Brigade units.  Equipment was not often of the most modern and many of the displays of equipment in the museum I had observed in use.

As part of the visit we were also briefed about the London Fire Brigade's excellent work with young people across the city under the general heading of the Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) scheme. If you want to find out more go the LFB site;


A magnificent service, where some three thousand were present, was held at St Paul's on Tuesday morning the celebrate the 300th anniversary of the completion of Christopher Wren's cathedral building.

One of the leitmotifs of my Master's year has been a series of memorable services at St Paul's: the City Guilds Service, the Loriners' Company 750th anniversary service and the Sons of the Clergy celebration.  Each is magnificent and entirely appropriate in its own way.

Tuesday's service included as a theme contributions from every part of the diverse team that maintains St Paul's at the heart of City of London life.  So, in addition to the Dean and the canons there were prayers offered by members of the IT, Marketing, Finance and Works departments, people who work in the Cathedral Shop and the Cathedral School as well as the friends and volunteers whose support helps keep the cathedral going.

An imagined nineteenth century view of old St Paul's.  In the hundred or so years before the cathedral was finally destroyed it had decayed considerably.  The spire, that was the tallest in England, was accidentally burnt and entirely destroyed in 1561 and the general fabric of the building was quite dilapidated. 
We were reminded during the service of the vicissitudes that attended the hugely ambitious rebuilding of a cathedral after the somewhat dilapidated medieval one, described somewhat imaginatively by John Evelyn as 'One of the most ancient pieces of early piety in the Christian world', had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Rebuilding took forty-five years.  Although it was an act of great civic faith there were the inevitable wrangles over typically recurring issues when it comes to big projects.  These covered the 'usual suspects' of project scope, the original plans were much reduced, and cash-flow management; at one point Wren had his salary withheld and it was only reinstated after much wrangling.

HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Duchess of Gloucester were the principal members of the congregation that also included the Lord Mayor and other members of the civic City and representatives from many of the livery companies. 

After an hour and a half of a beautifully presented service it was out into a blustery June day but with a useful reminder of the great legacy of Christopher Wren and those who helped him create a magnificent religious space.


On Thursday evening Alastair Ross and I went to Pewterers' Hall for their Master and Wardens Dinner.  The company is still linked with the pewter trade and for more details go to  They occupy a charming Hall, rebuilt after the Blitz, on a site between London Wall and Cheapside.  For more details of the Company go to

I was made most welcome by the Master, Professor John Donaldson, and other members of the Company.  As with so many meetings with fellow livery companies it revives memories.  My maternal grandfather, Harry Willis, was an inveterate collector.  Starting in the 1920s and for some decades thereafter he pursued what were then regarded as highly esoteric interests.  These principally were English brass church furnishings, such as candlesticks, from the late medieval and early modern periods, and pewter from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. 

I can remember, as a teenager, his interest in makers' marks where I think he was considered one of the leading amateur experts.  He would recount at length long passed visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum to discuss newly discovered marks with the curators.  At the time the regularly repeated stories seemed a little tedious but they clearly made a long term impression as I now wish I had listened more carefully.

Back to the present a most enjoyable evening at which I was presented with a beautifully made Pewterers' quaich - the traditional Scottish friendship cup - with the design of the vessel including handles using the seahorse supporters from the Company's arms.  It is one of a limited edition produced for the current Master and designed by Pewterer liveryman Nigel Israel. 


My fellow Master Bloggers, Julia Adley of the Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders and Jim Surguy the Master Marketor, see links below, both posted this lunch first and was most flattering about it.  I can add little but to provide a bit more background and mention further details of a race that took place at Royal Ascot while we were dining.

The luncheon following the month's Court meeting is one where we invite all the livery companies that have links in a number of ways with the Company most typically because it provides us an opportunity to reciprocate hospitality.

This year a total of forty-eight Companies were able to attend.  Of these five were companies from outside London, including our sister Draper Companies in Shrewsbury and Coventry, with the remainder being fellow London companies.

The luncheon comes at a time of the year when  the majority of the Masters have been on office between eight and ten months.  Acquaintanceships, and in many cases friendships, have been made.  As a consequence any event of this type with over a hundred attending is almost bound to be a success.  I think Thursday did not disappoint.

It was also Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.  But on balance it was much more comfortable in the Hall as the day was rather sodden.  Towards the close of business at the Court meeting preceding Junior Warden William Charnley announced he was part owner of a horse running that day.  He went on to describe the merits of Pyman's Theory running in the 2.30 Norfolk Stakes and trained by Tom Dascombe.  He further went on to reassure us it was a firm favourite.  The Court collectively decided to support their Junior Warden's excellent judgement by placing bets.  Unfortunately news emerged after 2.30pm that the five furlongs of soggy going had proved too much even for a horse with a penchant for this type of race.  Pyman's Theory had been unplaced.

But it was such a good lunch that the slightly disappointing news was quickly forgotten.


The Mansion House Scholarship scheme was established in 1997 to provide promising individuals the opportunity to study or gain work experience in the UK, typically at postgraduate level, with a view developing their careers in the financial sector.   Past Master Sir Michael Craig Cooper, Master Draper in 1997, played a major part in setting the scheme up and the Company still supports it with a cash grant every year.  For more details go to

A reception was held on Monday evening at the offices of SEB in Cannon Street.  A most interesting and impressive group of young men and women from across the world who were either past or current scholars were present. 

Clearly it is a project with a lot of energy behind it, including the fullest support from the Lord Mayor, and plays a part in sustaining the high reputation of the City as a global financial centre. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Ray Wilkinson QVRM, TD
There was only one Draper on the Birthday Honours list but his award was an unusual one.  Our congratulations go to Liveryman Ray Wilkinson was awarded the Queen's Volunteer Reserve Medal (QVRM).  This is a scarce award to outstanding members of the reserve forces of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.  All ranks are eligible but only about a dozen awards are made annually.  It is now the only specific award for service to reservists that results in post-nominal letters as these days the Territorial Decoration (TD), and other awards for long service in the reserves, are no longer eligible.  However as Ray was awarded his TD  before the change of rules in 1999 he is entitled to denote himself QVRM, TD.

Ray Wilkinson was admitted to the Freedom by Redemption in 2000, Called to the Livery in 2001 and has been a governor of the Sir William Boreman Trust.  He is also a member of the Friends of Drapers Almshouses (FODAH) team visiting residents of Walters Close.  

He came into the Company through his links with one our affiliated regiment, 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment, a Territorial Army unit with which the Company has been connected since 1982.  He was commanding officer of the unit.  His military career included service as a regular officer and attendance at Sandhurst.  He currently holds the rank of colonel.

Away from his military career he has been  Chief Executive of Victim Support WorkForce and now Director of the Best Practice Club. He is also Chairman of Working with Words, an aspiring social enterprise based in Greenwich which trains and employs people with learning disabilities to produce accessible information in printed, electronic, audio and graphic formats.

The QVRM is presented by the monarch at one the series of investiture ceremonies throughout the year.  We have not had reports yet as to whether Ray has actually received his medal.
The Queen's Volunteer Reserve Medal

Monday, 20 June 2011


Each year in June the Hall becomes the venue for the Company's Summer Entertainment.  It is a unique social event in the Company year as all Liverymen and Freemen, as well as those who work for the Company are invited and can bring partners. 

Over the years the Summer Entertainment has taken a number of forms including opera performances, a formal dinner and last year's most original Sunday gathering where then Master Graham Zellick had a Jewish theme including a tour of the Bevis Marks synagogue.

This year we decided to stage a ball.  This involved a dinner using three of the four large rooms of the Hall, Scottish country dancing in marquee erected specially in Throgmorton Avenue - this is a Drapers' private street but I regret some commuters seemed peeved to find their rat run between Bank and London Wall blocked - and the Drawing Room for a small band.

Over 360 attended.  Gerald Quadros and his team prepared an excellent dinner.  John Freestone had organised an excellent seating plan that mingled old and new acquaitances.  He also organised the running of the evening seamlessly.

Where he has no control was over the standard of Scottish country dancing.  Purists from north of the Border might object that some of the sets lacked precision but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was certainly an ice-breaker. 

The evening finished with a traditional breakfast after midnight. 

It was an excellently run event that was much enjoyed by all those who attended.  Equally importantly it was a chance for the Company to come together as a whole. 


On Wednesday Alastair and I, despite the title of the dinner without our wives, were invited to the Carpenters.

The Carpenters are our closest neighbours.  They have occupied the northern end of Throgmorton Avenue, we are at the southern end. for about the same length of time but I think they may have bought the site just ahead of our forced purchase of part of Thomas Cromwell's estate in 1543.  Our local property holdings still abut each other.

When our Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 we were taken in by the Carpenters whose Hall, no more than 200 meters to the north of ours, had been just outside the area of extensive fire damage.  We reciporocated in 1941 when the Carpenters' Hall was lost in the Blitz and ours miraculously escaped unscathed.

The Carpenters Company continues to play a leading part in its trade and is particularly active in East London.  Most notably they sponsor the Building Crafts College in Stratford and Carpenters' and Docklands Centre, also in Stratford.  In the inevitable way that property and philanthropy seem to be linked in the London livery companies this focus derives from a 63 acre farm in West Ham bought by the Company in 1767.  For more details go to

The current Master is Giles Downes CVO, a noted architect who played a major part in the imaginative restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire in the annus horribilis of 1992. He and his wardens made us most welcome.

It was an opportunity to meet with our close neighbours and the short walk back to the Masters' flat in the Hall presented just the right time for a modest constitutional before turning in.

Friday, 10 June 2011


As a sister company with links to the textile trade we meet the Weavers socially at regular intervals.  As a consequence I was invited to the Weavers' Court Breakfast held at the Tallow Chandlers attractive hall on Tuesday.  In truth the breakfast of the title is not modern usage and we were entertained to a good Court lunch.

The senior Weaver holds the unique title of Upper Bailliff that is always solemnly included with the normal title of master and the somewhat more rarely encountered prime warden.  The current Upper Bailliff is John Pilling, a successful businessmen in the textiles industry. 

It was an enjoyable lunch and a good opportunity to compare notes with a sister company with parallel interests.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Followers of this blog will I know wish to see, if they did not get a look at the City Pages of Friday's Evening Standard, a most warm reminiscence of Gareth Clutton.

In my post of a few days ago I quite forgot to mention the distinctive black fedora and voluminous coat. from the bottom of which there were nearly always visible trousers with turn-ups.  This quite unforgettable combination was memorably one's first sighting of Gareth in winter months as he came down Throgmorton Avenue to the Hall.

Incidentally, the Memorial Service mentioned is planned for 8 July at St Sepulchres-without-Newgate at 11.30am and afterwards at the Hall.


The coat of arms of the Company.  I think the yellow carriages are charming.
The Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, led by their Master Vice Admiral Tim Laurence (knighted and appointed KCVO shortly afterwards), staged a superb Gala Banquet at the Guildhall on 1 June.  Both Rosemary and I were privileged to be invited.  The Master Coachmaker was accompanied by HRH Princess Royal, who is Master Butcher for this year.

The evening began with Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines in the Guildhall Yard who beat retreat in a most impressive fashion.  We then went into Guildhall which was described in the Master's speech as one of the most memorable spaces in London, if not in England.

We had an evening of entertainment including City of London Sinfonia with Emily Garland soprano, a performing group that interpreted con vivace and con molto brio arias from Verdi and Puccini.  Finally there was a sparkling dance performance by the now famous Strictly Come Dancing personality Anton du Beke and Erin Boag.

The evening had a seroius side which was to raise money for Motorvations
as well as highlight the other charitable work of the Company.  For more details go to

One gained the impression that the Company had come together to stage an excellent evening.  It was both a privilege and great fun to be a guest.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


This blog, although entitled Master Draper, is, of course, entirely my personal view.   This is one particular post where I am going to be especially partisan. 

Those who have received the addresses for the three candidates for Lay Sheriff  standing for election on 24 June may note that my name appears on Andrew Whitton's address as one of his supporters.  I am not the only Draper to be on this list; Past Master Sir Michael Craig-Cooper and Junior Warden William Charnley also appear.

In a contested election for Lay Sheriff it is always invidious to select one candidate ahead of another.  Both Nicholas Bonham and Wendy Mead CC are excellent candidates.  But I think on balance, and after careful consideration, Andrew just wins by a nose (and a moustache).

His financial background is particularly important at this time in the City's development where the issues we face are complex and require clear understanding in what is going to be an ongoing and difficult debate.  Also his international experience, especially in the Middle East, is most valuable at a time when many parts of the world are in considerable flux and a knowledgeable individual has much to contribute.

Equally importantly Andrew is a very active supporter of the wider livery movement.  I have no doubt he will be a most effective champion on our behalf as well as having just the right personality to help resolve the inevitable internal differences that can arise.

So in summary, although we are fortunate to have three excellent candidates standing, Andrew has, from my viewpoint, just the right combination of experience and personality to be our Lay Sheriff for next year.

I reiterate this is a personal view and equally importantly whether you vote for Andrew or not, and I really hope you will give him your support, do your bit our City democracy by casting your vote at Common Hall on Friday 24 June at twelve noon.

I am required under the rules of the elections to add the following: although the precise wording, particularly the use of the word printing does not seem to have kept up with the advent of the blogosphere.

Promoted, printed and published by Pauline Halliday OBE, 12, Somerset House, Somerset Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5JA. On behalf of Andrew Whitton, Flat 1, No.1, Hayes Place, London NW1 6UA


I have taken this picture of Gareth in the garden at home relaxing after work from the Caring Bridge site.  I think it captures his personality just right.
The news was not at all unexpected but sad nevertheless.  Gareth, after a few weeks heroic final struggle against a particularly virulent form of cancer, died on Saturday morning.  Many of us had followed his family's postings on Caring Bridge -see - with great admiration in the way that Fiona, his wife, their children Anna, Rafe and George had handled this huge personal tragedy with great spirit and warmth.

Gareth was by birth almost bound to be a surveyor and to enter the family firm of Cluttons, he was the sixth generation of the family to be a partner in the firm.  His evident experience and popularity resulted in his being invited into the Drapers' Company in 2003.  Past Master Martin Sankey, a one-time fellow partner from Cluttons, played a major part in this. In 2008 he left Cluttons to be the Chief Executive of Portman Estates and a major influence in the London and wider property market.

From his earliest time in the Company he played a positive and constructive role.  I can recall his efficiency as a fellow governor of Bancroft's School.  Subsequently he was on the Investments Committee with, of course, a big contribution to make on some major property decisions affecting the Company.  He was elected to the Court in 2009 and had a successful year as Junior Warden.  He was just beginning to get into his stride as a major player in Court life when a second occurrence of melanoma proved to be fatal.

An individual of great acuity with an unerring eye for the uncomfortable detail.  This precision was accompanied by a dry wit and a natural ability to socialise.  An abiding memory is a general zest for life aided by the odd glass of fine wine and a decent cigar.

Our loss is very great but of course it pales into nothing with that of his immediate and wider family.  I can do more than conclude in his wife Fiona's words:

'To say that he lost his battle with cancer would imply that he was struggling against it, which is simply not the case. He walked calmly and courageously with it until he could do so no more. He soldiered on for weeks without any sign of fear or unrest, beating the doctor’s best estimates by a country mile, and when he finally ran out of energy he did so peacefully and with his usual dignity.

Whilst the last few months have been the hardest of our lives they have given us some truly wonderful memories, for which we will always be so grateful. Gareth spent his last couple of months exactly how he said he’d wanted to, at home enjoying the company of many old friends and surrounded by the three things he loved the most, cigars, fine wine and his adoring family.'

Had he lived he would have been an outstanding Master.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


The Cutlers of Hallamshire coat of arms from a stained glass window at Cutlers' Hall

In cutler's ironwork we have in Sheffield the best of its kind by English hands.  Unsurpassable when the workman chooses to do all he knows by that of any living nation.
John Ruskin - Inscribed as a frieze around the Livery Hall

I have reported earlier on the Cutlers of Hallamshire and their indefatigable championing of the Sheffield city region, traditionally known as Hallamshire, and its industries.  The Cutlers of Hallamshire were generous to invite me to their Cutlers' Feast this year, the 375th recorded.  It was held at their most impressive Hall in the centre of Sheffield.  For more details of the Company go to

It was a substantial event with over 300 present.  A large numbers of members of the Company were dining as well as prominent individuals connected with Sheffield.  The atmosphere was one of determination to promote the prosperity of the region.  This formed the basis of the address by Pamela Liversedge OBE, Senior Warden, who proposed the toast Hallamshire and the Future.  It was a thoughtful and accomplished speech focusing on both the opportunities and challenges facing manufacturing today.  The response by Lord Bhattacharyya CBE reinforced this theme. 

Two subsequent speeches by the current Master, Professor William Speirs, and Rt Hon Richard Caborn further concentrated on the huge potential of the region.   I was also fortunate to sit next to the newly appointed Lord Mayor, Cllr Dr Sylvia Dunkley.  She has a hugely wide interests ranging through history, particularly that of Sheffield, as well as being director of her family engineering firm that makes very advanced products by atomising of liquid metals.  Go to to find out more.

It was most enjoyable evening combining good fellowship with a sense of purpose.  At an earlier presentation this year Bill Speirs had said 'Sheffield ans quality are synonymous.  I could not agree more.


Not this year's service but it gives a passing impression of this most impressive splendid and impressive service 
 With the only exception being great national events, such as the recent Royal Wedding, without doubt the most impressive service in the Church of England's year is the Sons of the Clergy Service held at St Paul's in May each year.  The service is also certainly unique as it has been held annually without a break since the Sons of the Clergy were founded in 1655.  Its original purpose was to help Church of England clergy who were faring badly under the puritanism of the Commonwealth.  This year was thus the 357th service. 

Today the religious struggles of the mid-seventeenth century are long passed and Sons of the Clergy continues to be a major charity helping clergymen and their families for more details go to

To return to the service at St Paul's.  As a major charity of the Church of England it was a splendid affair.  Massed choirs, massed bishops, marvellous hymns and the general ebb and flow of the service with the City and Livery present in full regalia created a great momentum that assailed both the senses immediately and the spirit in slightly slower time.

Afterwards there was a dinner at Merchant Taylors' Hall where I was fortunate to sit next to David Rossdale,  Bishop of Grimsby, who turned out to be great advocate of academies.  It was good to share experiences that, in many ways, despite the differences between rural Lincolnshire and East London were very similar.  Incidentally I did not find out at the time but he is a fellow blogger:


On Monday evening Alastair Ross and myself travelled up to Cambridge on a packed commuter train for dinner at Pembroke College.  The two worlds of railways and university could not be more different.  It was a beautiful late spring evening and the onset of dusk amongst the quietness of the Cambridge colleges was in sharp contrast to the elbowing for even the most marginal position of comfort on the Lea Valley line, the constant ringing of mobiles and the hissing of iPods.

This annual event is the formal recognition of the long-standing arrangement where the Company supports Drapers' Fellows at the College.  There are usually three Drapers' Fellows every four years with two fellowships in every four year cycle for science related subjects and the other for humanities.

We were joined at Pembroke College by Junior Warden William Charnley, who is a fellow of the College and a benefactor of the university, and Liveryman Jonathan Trower who is an alumnus.

Sir Richard Dearlove, a past director of SIS - or MI6 to those who do not keep closely abreast of Whitehall reorganisations - and the current Master, made us most welcome and we met a selection of Drapers' Fellows and other members of the College.  The fellowships cover an extraordinarily wide range of subjects: studies of meerkat behaviour in relation to human psychology, reconstructing proto Greek and Latin, consideration of historiography in late second century AD China and considerations of philosophy that I regret to say were well beyond me.  Next year's Fellow is the entirely appropriately named Sky French who is working on particle physics and spending some time at the Large Hadron Collider.

We had a most enjoyable dinner.  It had been decided that Monday's should be a vegetarian day for those dining in College and the only concession to our visit was that there was a fish main course on the top table.  It was a most enjoyable meal and with the prospect of three further dinners that week the lightness of vegetarian cuisine was most welcome.

Sir Richard in welcoming us noted how many Drapers' Fellows had made their mark both within the College and further afield.  Our support over the years had suppored some key first steps for many distinguished scholars of today.  Yet again, as with so many other academic visits this year, it was clear that the Company's consistent contribution over the years had helped individuals grow and develop in exceptional ways. 

Monday, 30 May 2011


Coat of arms of the Merchant Venturers of Bristol
On Friday Alastair Ross and myself travelled to Bristol to dine with the Merchant Venturers of Bristol.  The Merchant Venturers are a very active livery company carrying out a most impressive range of activity.  This is related particularly to the support of school and care of the elderly.  In addition to Colston's School, an independent school, the Company sponsors two academies in Bristol. Care of the elderly is conducted principally through the St Monica Trust that looks after some 800 people locally.  For more details go to The ancient Hall of the Company was destroyed by bombing in 1941 and the Company is now located in a large and elegant base in Clifton within the shadow of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Giles Clarke continues a tradition set by both his father and grandfather in being Master. He is a well known serial entrepreneur and, as a great fan of cricket is currently the Chairman of the English Cricket Board and has guided the national team to some recent notable successes.  Additionally he is a fluent Arab speaker and only a little further behind with Persian. 

He told me that his English Cricket Board visits, especially to the Indian sub-continent had allowed him to indulge in his interest of military history and he had recently visited the site of the Battle of Plassey 1757.  We agreed it was hardly a monumental feat of arms.  The crushing British victory relied essentially on Robert Clive's organisational competence but even more on his brilliant ability to manipulate the Bengali princes and military leaders and ensure the right people were paid off so as not to participate.  Plassey, some 150 miles north of Calcutta on the banks of the Bhagirati River, is Giles admitted not much to look at but getting there is a challenge across miles of provincial roads and is now in an area where bodyguards are strongly advised.

As a boy I knew Bristol well as an uncle, Reggie Holloway who was married to my mother's sister, lived there.  He was a well known Bristol character being under-sheriff for many years as well as being the Chairman of both Gloucester Cricket Club and Bristol Rovers he was also an outstanding bridge player.   It was good to know that although he died in 1980 he is still remembered and Giles in particular said his cricketing interests had been, in part, stimulated by him.  It is interesting how lives intersect.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


A renamed Sheperd's Pie connected to the Overground at Gas Mark 4.
I occasionally follow two informative and entertaining blogs about London's Transport.  London Reconnections and Going Underground - the name of the site inspired by The Jam hit -  

The latter has recently posted the story of a team known as Stickers on the Central Line who are determined to change the Central Line car route diagrams.  These are just two selections from an ever expanding website. 

Although I use the Central Line regularly, I have not seen any yet.  Of course I could not possibly condone attempts to spread misinformation and cause more confusion than normal on the Underground.  Nevertheless as they potentially make travel on the Central Line marginally more interesting, on balance, these 'improved' line diagrams must be a good thing.

An additional service inserted just before Buckhurst Hill.  It has been repported, in I think Metro, that Transport for London 'chiefs' are concerned that French tourists have been flocking to Buckhurst Hill in an attempt to get back to Paris.  I sense there is another urban myth in the making.
I am not sure whether Stickers on the Central Line is diversifying but I think this is quite a helpful sticker when PIXC, Passengers in Excess of Capacity, or Pixie, as this particular form of deep discomfort is cheerfully vocalised by railway planners, becomes pressing.

I look forward to seeing if anything happens!


At Salters' Hall on Wednesday 12 May the Masters - Prime Wardens in the case of the Fishmongers and Goldsmiths - attended their last Great XII Masters and Clerks Dinner of the 2010/11 year.  It was an excellent end to a most interesting series of dinners.

At each of the dinners the Master Mercer speaks and this year's Master Mercer, Sir David Clementi, has devoted a part of his speech to consider a former member of the Company - the only rule is the individual is deceased - in whose Hall we are dining as a candidate to enter a Great XII Hall of Fame.

On Thursday the final, Salter, candidate was revealed to complete a list comprising the following:

Mercers:   Sir Richard Whittington (c.1354-1423) was a medieval merchant and politician, and the real-life inspiration for the pantomime character Dick Whittington. Sir Richard Whittington was four times Lord Mayor of London.

Grocers:  Sir John Houblon (1632-1712) was the first Governor of the Bank of England from 1694 to 1697.

Drapers:  The 6th Marquess of Exeter (1905-1981), styled Lord Burghley before 1956 and also known as David Burghley, was an English athlete, sports official and Conservative Party politician. He won the gold medal in the 400 m hurdles at the 1928 Summer Olympics. David Burgley was a particular interest of the Master Mercer as in his athletic prime he managed to match the time of 53.4 seconds Burghley set in the Olympics some fifty years previously.  Also one of David Burghley's daughters, Lady Victoria Leatham, is currently Second Master Warden.

Fishmongers: Sir William Walworth (circa 1330-1386) A wealthy fishmonger and mayor of London in 1374. During the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 Walworth's moment came when the rebel leaders and the young King Richard II were discussing terms of ending the rebellion at Smithfield. The story is somewhat blurred, but it is reported that, unhappy with the way Tyler was speaking to the king, Walworth dealt the rebel leader a blow with his sword, either killing him outright or gravely wounding him. With Tyler's death, the rebellion swiftly ended.

Goldsmiths:  Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) the best-known English silversmith of his generation. He is generally held to be the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century.

Merchant Taylors:  Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) an English clergyman and scholar, who held high positions in the Church of England during the reigns of Quen Elizabet and King James. During the latter's reign, Andrewes served successively as Bishop of Chichester, Ely and Winchester and oversaw the translation of the Authorized Version (or King James Version) of the Bible.

Skinners:  Michael Joseph Oakeshott (1901-1990) was an English philosopher and political theorist who wrote about philosophy of history, philosophy of religion, aesthetics, and philosophy of law. He is widely regarded as one of the most important conservative thinkers of the 20th century.

Haberdashers:  Robert Billesden, Lord Mayor in 1483 (I cannot trace any other dates) who famously arbitrated in the dispute of the precedence between the Skinners and Merchant Taylors by saying that they should alternate sixth and seventh seniority each year.  The spelling, I understand is crucial, the Skinners favouring Billesdon and the Merchant Taylors (and Haberdashers) Billesden.

Salters: Sir Richard Glyn, 1st Baronet (1711–1773) was a British banker and politician.

Ironmongers: Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood (1724-1816) was a Royal Navy hero known particularly for his service in the American War of Independence and French Revolutionary Wars. He acted as a mentor to Horatio Nelson.

A relatively recent interpretation of the Feast of the Five Kings at Vintners' Hall.  Image courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Vintners
Vintners: Sir Henry Picard (dates very uncertain but probably inconveniently dead by 1361).  In 1363 in the City of London there is a story that there took place the famous Feast of the Five Kings. This was the occasion when, as the story goes, Alderman Sir Henry Picard, at that time Master of the Vintners' Company, hosted a dinner and sumptuously feasted King Edward III of England, King John II of France, King David II of Scotland, King Valdemar IV of Denmark and King Peter I Lusignian of Cyprus and many other noblemen. It was the time when the King of Cyprus was travelling around Europe in an attempt to assemble an army for a new crusade.  One of his gambits to gain support was to bring his own Cypriot wines to banquets and some were served to great acclaim at the Feast of the Five Kings. I do not believe this is a tradition that the Vintners have maintained in more recent times.  It is a powerful legend but difficult to prove.  The Master Mercer noted a lot of dates are difficult to reconcile: Picard's possible death in 1361 creates a particular problem, John of France was probably not in London until January 1364 and having Vlademar make a visit to London during a major war betwen Denmark and Sweden takes a bit of explaining.

Clothworkers: Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was a great Royal Naval administrator and MP.  He is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. He rose by patronage to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and subsequently King James II.

The Master Mercer then went on to consider a seating plan for the Great XII Hall of Fame.  This reminded me of the now largely forgotten popular historian Hendrik van Loon.  In his 1942 book Van Loon's Lives: Being a true and faithful account of a number of highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucious and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as dinner guests in a bygone year, he invited deceased great men to dinner.  Generally I recollect that the literary conceit was that most meals did not go well, despite the delicious food prepared by his cook, as the most famous tended to be rather self-centered and incapable of interacting with other famous individuals from differing historical periods.

Anyway the seating plan is as follows:

The intention is to create lively conversation with plenty of opportunity for comparative note taking.  Thus Clothworker Pepys could compare the progress of the Royal Navy with Ironmonger Hood.  Merchant Taylor Andrewes and Skinner Oakshott could return to the events of 1483 with Haberdasher Billesdon/Billesden.  It was presumed the present Masters could sit on a nearby table and try and follow what transpired.

Next year it has been suggested that miscellaneous villains and traitors could be conjured up from history.  Skeletons in various Great XII livery cupboards will doubtless start rattling if this is the case.