Monday, 28 February 2011


Helena Bonham Carter and Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Great news from the Oscars that The King's Speech has scooped four categories.

Although there is no Oscar for best location the part that Drapers' Hall played in the film has certainly been widely noticed.  In particular, the scene where George VI gives his accession speech in the Livery Hall and his attempts to speak before the Privy Council are spliced with shots of the various royal portraits on the walls including a stern Queen Victoria makes for memorable cinema.

The King's Speech is clearly destined for a most sucessful 2011 and I am sure that the part the Hall played in creating some of the film's most evocative scenes will be of continuing interest. 

Sunday, 27 February 2011


This dinner, Alastair Ross and I all got a mention in the Daily Telegraph Service Dinners bit of the paper's Court and Social page.  It thus clearly deserves a mention in my blog.  For those to whom the Daily Telegraph  of 22 February is not immediately to hand I can inform that it announced that on Monday 21 February I attended the 29th Annual Officers' Club Dinner of 71 (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment at the Cavalry and Guards Club, Piccadilly.

I have only tangentially mentioned this unit in my blog.  So, to start from the beginning.  It is one of our four military affiliations.  The other three being the HMS Monmouth, Welsh Guards and RAF Shawbury.

The naming and role of Territorial Army units is not a subject for the faint-hearted to tackle and units with a yeomanry tradition have particularly complex stories.  I will simplify and in so doing I hope I do not cause any unintended  offence. The yeomanry has roots stretching back to the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars when individuals who possessed horses volunteered to form cavalry regiments for local defence.  Initially this was against the threat of a French invasion. Many yeomanry units trace their origins back to that time.  However existence was not neccessarily continuous.  The nineteenth century was usually a story of disbandments and sudden resuscitations, normally in response to the, surprisingly, frequent French invasion scares that occurred throughout the period.

In Haldane's reforms around 1910 the yeomanry was incorporated into the Territorial Army as reserve cavalry.  However the decision in 1935 to mechanise the Army and dispense with horses meant another series of major changes occurred.  Many yeomanry regiments were redesignated as Royal Signals units and had distinguished service in the Second World War in this role. 

Since the 1950s it has, unfortunately, been a story of continuous reduction. Today, 71 (City of London) Yeomanry Signals Regiment combines the heritage and traditions of six former regiments in three squadrons:
  • 265 Kent and County of London Yeomanry Sharpshooters Support Squadron (Volunteers) located Bexleyheath.
  • 47 Middlesex Yeomanry Signal Squadron (Volunteers) located Uxbridge and Southfields.
  • 68 Inns of Court and City & Essex Yeomanry Signal Squadron (Volunteers) located City of London, Whipps Cross and Chelmsford
The regiment has a home defence communications role.

The Company is involved with the regiment in two events next month.  A visit by all ranks to the Hall on 4 March for lunch and a look round and a major event on 28 March to launch the regiment formally with its City of London title.  More news of these in due course.

Back to the dinner.  Brigadier Charles le Gallais, the regiment's honorary colonel, presided and Lieutenant Colonel Tim Allen, commanding officer, responded with an interesting overview of the regiment's current wide range of activity.  In common with all volunteer units these days it stretched from the local drill halls all the way to Afghanistan by way of a lot of places in between.

Although I am a member of the Cavalry and Guards Club I do not visit too often these days as it is currently a bit too far west for me.  But I was pleased to note that, as always, they put on a good dinner.

More news about the Drapers' relationship with the regiment over the next few weeks.


My post on the Vardon scroll depicting Nelson's Funeral procession to St Paul's in 1806 (see post of 25 January) has generated quite a lot of interest and some further reflection as to what it exactly might be.  The website Nelson and His World - - picked up the debate very quickly. 

There was some reluctance in the Nelson and His World discussion thread to accept that a ten year could have been sufficiently competent to do the work.  I have no doubt that John Vardon was.  I have a passing interest in English drawings and watercolours of this period and the execution of the scroll is well within the competence of as ten year old at the time.  Training was much more focused, high standards were expected and, quite frankly, a world with fewer distractions meant that work was done much more thoroughly.

Also doubt was cast about the genuineness of the lump of fossilised soup that the Vardons stated to have been preserved from a batch prepared on HMS Victory on 21 October 1805.  As it has now completely disappeared, I think the odds are long that it has survived at Buckingham Palace or some other royal palace, we will never know with certainty.  All I was doing as a blogger was to report a family tradition.  It is one I find quite credible.  There was an immediately reverential interest in anything connected with the Battle of Trafalgar as soon as it was clear what a great victory had been achieved linked to the poignant fact that Nelson had been killed in the hour of his greatest triumph.  Preserving a lump of soup in such circumstances seems quite understandable.  What is of greater interest is quite it lasted so long without modern methods of preservation such as freezing or rapid dehydration.
The Toy Lord Nelson Funeral Panorama.  Thin paper sheet 12x7.5 inches. Published 25 January 1805 priced at one shiiling and sixpence.  The sheet would have been cut up and the procession glued together as a roll.  It would then be drawn across the scene on the bottom left to animate it.  Sold for £920.  With acknowledgements to the 1805 Club.
The remaining area of debate has been the influences on, and possible purpose of, the scroll. Penny Fussell, our archivist, has I think found the complete answer. The Kedge Anchor, the newsletter of the 1805 Club has a useful section reviewing sales of naval memorabilia.  In the March/April 2010 edition - number 27 - there is the record of a toy Lord Nelson Funeral Panorama sold on eBay by a seller in Bristol.  It is almost certainly the inspiration of Paul Vardon's home-made copy.

I can remember playing with similar paper cut-outs drawn across a small cardboard box proscenium stage.  They were often processions of circus animals. There was also a variation where cut outs were passed in front of a light source to create a shadow show.

Incidentally the 1805 Club was founded in 1990 to care for the memorials of the Georgian sailing navy.  For more details go to


Antonio Berardi dress on the catwalk at the Hall.  With acknowledgements to Elle. 
Lunchtime on Sunday saw Antonio Berardi stage his London Fashion Week event at Drapers' Hall.  Unfortunately I was not one of the 350 invited guests who got a seat along with others who crammed into the Hall.

Antonio Berardi is of Sicilian parentage born in UK.  He went to the St Martin's School of Art and Design.  Today he is one of the few influential fashion designers who runs his own company.

Emma Sells of Elle gave an excellent summary of the event.  'Every season Berardi seems to introduce us to some hidden gem off the beaten track in London. This time it was the incredibly opulent Drapers’ Hall, resplendent with painted ceilings, ancient portraits and the grandest chandeliers.  The luxury surroundings suited the glamorous aesthetic that is the Berardi signature. The handful of beautifully cut coats, all draped fronts and curved seams, that his die-hard fans will surely not be seen out of come next winter. The long wool cape with perfectly tailored shoulders. The pleated and folded wool skater skirts and the metallic trouser suit. And, of course, there were the dresses.' For more details go to and search for Emma Sells' review of the show along with a video.

I am certain this is the first time the Hall has been used for such an event and from reading the press coverage, not only jn Elle but also Vogue, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard and Guardian, the location caught the imagination and was universally considered a superb setting for Berardi's designs.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Drapers' City Foyer is a converted former London School Board building.  It is typical of a large number of distinctive schools built across Inner London in the late nineteenth century under the guidance of Edward Robson, the Boards's chief architect.

On Wednesday 17 February Sir Nicholas Jackson, Sir Michael Craig-Cooper, Anthony Walker and myself paid a visit to Drapers' City Foyer.

In the late nineties the Company teamed up with Providence Row a major housing and homelessness charity in East London, especially in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, to refurbish a former London School Board building to create a foyer of forty-one units.  Because of the Company's contribution to the initial construction costs it is called Drapers' City Foyer.  Today the foyer is run by East Potential, an economic and social regeneration charity, on behalf of Providence Row.  For more details go to and and go to Drapers' City Foyer

Drapers' City Foyer is designed to provide temporary accommodation for young people who are homeless and in need of support.  The pressing need is to provide shelter and food but equally importantly a foyer can access a whole range of support and advice to give an individual the opportunity to improve their life chances and help them overcome personal problems.

The Foyer is doing well. Last year it successfully supported twenty-eight individuals find new opportunities and who have now left the Foyer.  East Potential want to do more.  They have some interesting ideas such as making more use of the ground floor spaces to provide training opportunities for non-residents.  Also Providence Row has agreed that Flavour Gateway, an innovative catering training and commercial operation, can establish a training cafe, the Cafe Relax, in the building.

Cafe Relax is in a really unusual space, the decor is stunning - I shall try and get some photographs - and there's a great menu that is really good value.  It will be opening shortly, go along for a meal.  For more details go to:


Each year, as all the Drapers reading this blog will know, the Master selects a charity he wishes the Company to support.  The charity acquires four benefits from this: a significant cash grant from the Company of £10,000, charitable donations by members of the Company - members of the Company are notably generous and a very considerable sum is given, a fund-raising event in the Hall at cost and, of course, further publicity for the charity.

This year I have selected a charity that is not yet a charity.  It is called Harold Hill Initiatives.  As it name makes clear it is focused on getting a number of projects started on Harold Hill.  This is where the Drapers' Academy opened in September 2010 (see a considerable number of earlier posts) is located.

Harold Hill is a former London County Council overspill estate built some sixty years ago.  The estate is  attractively laid out and much of it has  matured well. However it is remote - right on the edge of the green belt - and employment prospects are not good.  Many on the estate are now into a second generation of being dependent on welfare.  This is reflected by the fact that the two wards on the 'Hill' are the poorest in London Borough of Havering and well inside the bottom 10% nationally.  With state-spending cutbacks this is about to become a bigger issue.

Interestingly, although there are a large number of charities working in the inner city -see for instance the next post on the Drapers' City Foyer at Bethnal Green - there are virtually none active on the outer rim of London.

However a very active local group on the 'Hill' including Rev Russell Moul, the parish priest of St Paul's, are in the process of setting up a local charitable enterprise provisionally called the Diamond Trust.  Quite by chance Liveryman David Monro is providing legal on advice on this. This charity will be established within the next six months.  Meanwhile Harold Hill Initiatives can get the work started.

The big advantage of a local charity is that its reaction time can be very quick and can best understand local priorities.  Also volunteer support means that cost overheads are negligible.  We have a number of ideas that can get going immediately.  These include the establishment of a 'Listening Post' where people with problems can receive confidential support and advice and a micro-loan operation to provide finance to get young adults started in setting up their own businesses.

The charitable side of Harold Hill Initiatives will be overseen by Andy Mellows, our Head of Charities, and Stephen Beeson, Director of Finance at Drapers' Academy, will also help out.

More reports follow.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Nothing to do with the Drapers Company but Rosemary has had a picture selected for the forthcoming British Watercolours exhibition that is being held by the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours at the Mall Galleries (it is on from 30 March to 10 April).  For more details go to

Magnolia by Rosemary Farrer.  Watercolour 30cm square.  This and otherv images also on

I think it is one of Rosemary's most interesting still life paintings where she has combined botanical painting with an almost abstract sens of image.  She has also linked the translucence of watercolour with a denseness of colour normally associated with oils.

We are going to the private view on 29 March.  I shall be on tenterhooks to see whether she has won a prize.


The last three blogs have dealt with musical matters and it is most appropriate to end the series with a report on a concert at the Hall.

For some years Past Master Sir Nicholas Jackson Bt has organised three spring concerts at the Hall.  The intention is to provide an opportunity for the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and, on occasion the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, to showcase their talent at the Hall.  Many of the performers also hold Drapers' Music scholarships.  These include the five bursaries awarded annually by the Baroness de Turckheim scheme to outstanding British vocal students at each of the four London conservatoires and the Royal Northern College of Music.

On 9 February the Royal College of Music provided the musicians and a singer.  They were a most impressive line up. 

Ilya Movchan on violin gave a totally committed performance of Brahms Violin sonata no 1 in G major and the very challenging Ravel violin sonata, also in G major.  He played with such energy it kept us clinging on  by our metaphorical fingertips.  Yulia Vorontsova gave a most intelligent rendering of Debussy's Suite Bergamesque which was followed by a committed and passionate performance of Liszt's Venezia and Napoli. 

Martha Jones, one of this year's de Turckheim Scholars and a most impressive young Motzartian, was a most convincing Cherubino.  She gave a sparkling performance of Voi che sapete from act two of the Marriage of Figaro and was beautifully supported on the piano by Belinda Jones.

After the performance Martha told me a great anecdote about a recent outdoor, lakeside performance of Cosi fan tutte in France where she was singing the part of Dorabella.  In that poignant part of the First Act where Dorabella and Fiordiligi say farewell to their lovers Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are supposedly setting of for military service overseas, they sing with their tormentor, Don Alfonso, Soave sia vento - 'May the wind be gentle.' 

In this performance Ferrando and Gugliemo's departure was for real and they stepped into a boat moored in the lake and set sail.  In the middle of this touching little scene Ferrando fell out of the boat into the lake in the full view of all.  She said keeping a straight face while the audience collapsed laughing while a very splashy rescue operation got underway was an immense challenge.  Luckily Ferrando and Guglielmo spend the next chunk of the opera disguised as Albanians but when they had to change back for the final scene Ferrando rather squelched around the stage in his sodden costume with his companions trying hard not to corpse.

We were delighted that Professor Colin Lawson, Principal, and Vanessa Latarche, Head of Keyboard Studies, were present to watch the most impressive performances of their students.

The next concert at the Hall is on 8 March.  If you are a member of the Company and haven't booked why not come along? It will be a great evening.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Every year in February Bancroft's School stages a concert at the Hall.  It takes place in the Livery Hall, now known to millions as the room used in The King's Speech where Colin Firth, in the guise of George VI, makes his accession speech under the stern gaze of portraits of previous British kings and queens.  In fact the Bancroft's performers are on a stage just in front of a rather severe portrait of Queen Victoria flanked by William IV, looking somewhat uncomfortable in a court dress comprising a decidedly odd padded hose and ermine cloak, and Edward VII, in complete contrast, looking totally confident.

As always the Music Department at the School, Roger Bluff, Enid Weaver and Debbie Mittell, put together a programme that lets a wide variety of individuals and ensembles every opportunity to give of their best.  The result was some very professional performances across a wide range of musical genres. 

These ranged from the Bancroft Swingers getting the evening off to a good start with a really crisp performance of The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.  This was followed by the Middle School Choir with some charming modern and traditional arrangements, Ben Yelverton giving an impressive piano solo of a Dohnanyi piece, not my favourite composer but a real challenge to play, and then elements of the Bancroft's Swingers reappeared as a saxophone quartet.  The evening continued with the Bancroft's Singers and a vocal solo by Rebecca Slattery.  Finally everyone seemed to come back on a very crowded stage as the First Orchestra to give an excellent and lively interpretation of Franz von Suppe's Overture to his Light Cavalry. 

It was all very professional.  But what was equally important was that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly.  Performing in front of such a large audience, including one's parents and probably some hyper-critical sibling, is quite a test.  If there were nerves or anxiety they did not show.

An uplifting start to the week.


The current home of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the Barbican
The Company has close links to the music conservatoires in London, principally through a number of scholarship awards including the de Turkheim scholars. This year the Board of Governors of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama held a dinner at the Hall and very kindly asked me to attend.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is very much a City institution supported directly by the City of London.  It is currently located at the other end of London Wall from the Hall in the Barbican.  More details are at

It was a most distinguished event with many Fellows of the Guildhall School of Music present.  I was particularly delighted to be sitting close by Dame Emma Kirkby.  I used to be a volunteer supporting the London Handel Festival at St George's Hanover Square in the mid eighties and can remember Emma giving some memorable performances.
When the world was young.  George Martin and the Beatles share a cup of tea at Abbey Road Studios probably around 1966.
Speakers included another Fellow, Sir George Martin, who as he said had 'by chance met up with four lads from Liverpool' and this had had some influence on his career.  But it is clear that he has an extraordinary ability to mentor and interpret a very wide of artists and musical genres.  He briefly mentioned Bernard Cribbens, Beyond the Fringe, Charlie Drake, Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren as well as many others.  But most importantly he said that it been his attendance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, after a few rootless years where he had been in the services and tried a number of other things, that really nurtured and developed his talent.

Tom Hoffman,Common Councillor, who is the Chairman of the Board of Governors, was generous in his thanks to the Company and also reflected on the great success of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  


A general view of Artillery Fields, Finsbury Place the home of the HAC
The Honorable Artillery Company (HAC) is one of the City and the Army's great institutions.  Located just North of the Hall at Finsbury Place it was traditionally the City's volunteer force.  It was incorporated into the Territorial Army (TA) some hundred years ago and, despite constant changes in role, still flourishes.  As well as being an effective military unit it provides an essential and the flourishing link between the Army and the wider City community that has sadly eroded elsewhere in many towns and cities across the country as the TA has been successively reduced in size.  For more details go to
The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers (Musketeers on the flanks and Pikemen in the centre) on parade at Artillery Fields.
My links with the HAC go back over forty years.  My brother, David, joined at the same time as Past Master Stephen Foakes in 1970.  Both are still serving in the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers, a revival from the trained band period of the HAC's history.  The Company is frequently seen on City ceremonial occasions in their seventeenth century uniforms using what now appears to be the theatrical drill movements of the same period.

The January HAC Club Dinner is designed to reinforce the links between the City and the HAC.  Many members of the HAC, both serving and veterans, are members of various City liveries and are encouraged to invite their Masters and Clerks.  The Dinner was held in the handsome panelled dining room at Artillery Fields.  It still looks just the same as it did when I went to my first mess-night there over forty years ago but I think the food has got a bit better.  I went as guest of Past Master Stephen Foakes who looked resplendent in the scarlet tunic and lace of Sergeant of Pikemen.

Major General Simon Lalor, in his capacity of the President of the HAC Club, made us most welcome and my host had been asked to make the speech of welcome to the guests which he did most skilfully fitting together a string of individuals most elegantly.  The principal speaker was General Sir Nicholas Parker the current Commander in Chief Land Forces who made a wide ranging and challenging speech on the issues facing the Army.

Being back at the HAC brought back many memories and it is good to see how the unit has continued to adapt and flourish so successfully.


St Paul's choristers with their Director of Music.  One of the boys said during a question and answer session that he found the ruffs a little uncomfortable.
St Paul's Cathedral School is the school nearest to the Hall.  It is an independent co-educational school for children 4-13 and is situated in New Change close by the cathedral.  It is also the choir school for the cathedral and there are 34 choristers who board in a house near the school.  We have traditionally supported one of them.  For more details go to

On Tuesday there was a recital in the choir of the cathedral at six in the evening.  The atmosphere of St Pauls on a winter evening is a sublime amalgam of grandeur and peace; a great building anchored on its hill with only faintest hum of the City intruding.

The recital not only included some moving and delightful pieces of choral church music but also interviews with various choristers describing their life at the School.

This was followed by a reception in the Crypt around Nelson's tomb.  A post of 25 January noted that Nelson's funeral took place at St Paul's on January 9th, 1806.  I did not realise that in a curious piece of re-cycling, and I suppose desire for economy, he was interred beneath the black sarcophagus originally made for Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century.  The crypt is a very British place where memorials and tombs to British heroes, generally military,  are jumbled up with those of the lesser known.

Afterwards I was invited out to supper by the Master Girdler, Lord Strathalmond and his clerk, Ian Rees.  Ian is an old friend from my days in the Army.  They both looked after me very well..

A pitfall I managed to avoid was one that occurred to a most distinguished Master Draper a decade ago.  As he entered the Choir at St Pauls the Draper chorister, whom he had interviewed prior to entry a few months previously, gave him an enormous wink of welcome quite expecting one in return.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Dionne and Diggy in the Drawing Room
Followers of this blog will doubtless be excited to know that fifteen year old pop sensation Dionne Bromfield has recorded the video of her new song Yeah Right at the Hall with teen rapster Diggy Simmons. You may have come across Diggy in the MTV reality show Run House where he co-stars with his dad, veteran hip hop pioneer, 'Rev Run' Simmons.  Dionne has shot to fame as a protege of Amy Winehouse, who is her godmother.

I am not skillful enough to make a video link but there is a slightly breathless video of Dionne and Diggy making the Yeah Right video in the Hall.  Go to and follow links to the 'behind the scenes' video.  Charmingly Dionne says the Hall would be the sort of place she would like to live.

Drapers will, I am sure, watch the progress of this new release with interest.


Looking south-east from Settle Road, King's Wood North Block is virtually gone.  Work on the foundations of the new Drapers' Academy buildings starts shortly
Past Master James Devereux, the Drapers' Academy governor leading on the newbuild, sent me a view of the North Building site taken while he was visiting the school on Tuesday.

A demolition site may not be the picture with the greatest amount of interest to the casual reader of this blog.  But to those who have been following the story of the Academy new-build from the time that Michael Gove called in the project for review in July last year, only weeks before contract sign-off - now called Gove Tuesday in the academy movement, this view of a cleared site marks the end of the beginning. 

The Great Crested Newt
Work will now start on creating the foundations and structure of the new buildings.  There will also be a huge earth moving project to landscape the site to create better playing fields and ground source heat pump system to give the Academy a large measure of energy self-sufficiency. With the latter works we have to look after our Great Crested Newts and make sure they come to no harm.  A colony of this increasingly rare species lives on the edge of the playing fields. In the words of the law it is an offence to, 'Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection by a Great Crested Newt.'  To avoid this will require some very complicated earth moving activity.  But compared with other problems we have faced I am sure this is manageable.

Just over four terms, and under seventeen months, before the new buildings are open.


Sir Michael Craig-Cooper,  in his capacity as Vice Lord Lieutenant presenting a log service award to Ian Cooper of the London Fire Brigade in November 2009.
Monday marked the end of an era when Sir Michael Craig-Cooper, a Past Master of the Company, was dined out by his fellow lieutenants as Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater London.  He was Deputy Lieutenant of Kensington and Chelsea between 1987 and 2006 and has held the important post of Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater London since 2005.

For those who come across this blog, and might be a little vague on the subject, the Lord Lieutenant is the monarch's local representative.  These days the duties are essentially ceremonial and representative. It is an honorary appointment and in broad terms there is a lord lieutenant for each county.  To help him or her the lord lieutenant appoints deputies. The arrangements in Greater London are slightly different from other areas in that in addition to the vice lord lieutenant there are deputy lieutenants assigned to each of the 32 London boroughs as well as some sixty supernumary ones.

The jobs are busy ones with the deputy lieutenants having a full timetable of representational activities.  The Vice Lord Lieutenant sits in the middle of this web of activity with an important role in ensuring everything goes smoothly.

A number of other Drapers also involved in this side of Michael's activities were also present. These included Past Master Stephen Foakes and Lords Biliamoria and Boyce who are liverymen.

It was evident from the dinner that Michael is held in very high esteem for his unerring ability to make things work, with the hallmarks of great charm and courtesy, so that the London lieutenancy runs smoothly.  Sir David Brewer, a former Lord Mayor, is the current Lord Lieutenant.  In his speech he paid a warm tribute to Michael's great civic contribution that clearly not only elicited a strong response with his fellow deputy lieutenants but also from representatives of the wide range of other organisations, such as Royal Hospital Chelsea, where he plays, or has played, an essential role in their success.

It was entirely appropriate that Michael's departure from the lieutenancy could take place in 'his' Hall.  And it was just right that his departure warmly celebrated his great contribution to the life of London.


Coat of Arms of the Pattenmakers
A past Master of the Pattenmakers, Tim Watts, is an old friend of some four decades' standing.  He very kindly invited me to the Company's Mansion House livery dinner on Thursday 27 January.

The patten, a now completely disappeared form of footwear in England thanks to cleaner and better drained streets - although I have seen similar in India and South East Asia.  The pattens were slipped over normal shoes.  They must have required quite a skill to wear and one can imagine a degree of tottering, especially after a good livery dinner.  I now know where these pattens come from: see afternote below.
The Pattenmakers bear the title of an extinct trade.  The patten, a wooden platform slipped over shoes for walking on the streets, ceased to be an item of footwear by the late nineteenth century.  Apparently the last working pattenmaker in London hung up his clogs, so to speak, by 1900.

Today the company supports the footwear trade through education and support of young managers and also sponsors orthopaedic activity.  For more details go to

Theresa May MP

Photographed at Conservative Party Conference.  Theresa May's signature leopard print shoes interestingly juxtaposed with Ken Clarke's scuffed Hush Puppies

But back to the Mansion House.  It was a great evening much enlivened by some excellent speakers.  The guest of honour was the Home Secretary, Theresa May. There were some nice symmetries about her speaking.  The first is that in the current Cabinet she is the one almost certainly most focused on footwear, she made reference to her well known interest in designer shoes.  The second is that her husband, Philip May, is a Liveryman of the Company.  The last piece of the pattern is that one of the Wardens, John Timpson - Chairman of Timpson shoe repair chain, who has extremely sensible ideas about good management and leadership that appear in the Daily Telegraph and on the company's website , has a son Edward  He is MP for Crewe and Nantwich and is also Theresa May's parliamentary private secretary.

The Master, Stuart Lamb and Warden John Timpson also spoke giving a good account of the Company and the guests of the evening respectively.

An interesting and stimulating evening and yet another indication of the diversity of the Livery movement.


The illustration of the pattens worried me a bit as they do not look modern.  I now know they are one of the many enigmatic objects scattered round the fringes of Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding. Quite what they mean is anyone's guess.  What is certain is that they would, in real life, not have got so far in to the house.  As a consequence art historians can have a field day postulating any sort of meaning.
Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding the pattens illustrated further up the blog are at the bottom left of the picture.