Saturday, 9 April 2011


Quen Elizabeth College looking from the north.  In the centre is the chapel and around it are the one bedroom cottages originally built in 1818 and subsequently extended some thirty five years ago.  The trees, largely cherry, are always in bloom at Visitation time.
On Thursday the Master and Wardens conducted their first almshouse visitation to Queen Elizabeth College (QEC) in Greenwich.  The Visitation is now an enirely ceremonial affair. But in the past it used to be the highpoint - or possibly high stress point for the staff - of the year when the efficiency and good management of the almshouse was thoroughly inspected by the Master and Wardens on behalf of their fellow trustees who then reported back their findings to the Court.

The Visitation of QEC also has a further feature.  When the endowment was established by William Lambarde in 1576 he asked the Master of the Rolls, one of England's most senior judges, to be the Visitor.  Lambarde had a particular friendship with Sir William Cordell who was Master of the Rolls at the time and 325 years later the tradition continues.  This year Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury paid his second visit to the College.

The Visitation started with a short service in the chapel, that can seat about fifty.  Rev Chris Moody, Vicar of St Alfege and also a member of the Company's Sir William Boreman Foundation that helps students in of the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham, officiated.  Towards the end of the service the Master of the Rolls gave a short address and as he left the chapel he was, as is traditional, presented with a pair of white kid gloves.  These are nowadays returned for use on following years.

We then moved on to the community centre where we met a large number of residents.  I have been Chairman of the Friends of Drapers' Almhouses (FODAH) for some years now and it was good to meet up with residents I have known for some time and also to meet new faces.  Also members of FODAH including Liverymen Felicity Conway and Jonathan Bush as well as Sir Nicholas Jackson Bt, who leads the QEC FODAH team, were present.  Any member of the Company is also invited to attend and it was good to see a recently joined Freeman, James Baily, present.

All in all a lovely day, the sun shone, the blossom looked lovely and with the Visitation completed spring has definitely arrived.

Later this month we are visiting Walter's Close in Southwark and Edmanson's at Bruce Grove, Tottenham but before that on Monday 11 April it is the residents' tea party at the Hall.  I shall post this next week.  

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the present master should begin a similar custom to that enjoyed by QEC, by asking one of his friends in high office to accompany the visitation to Walters' Close and Edmanson's Close with the understanding that the custom be continued after both have moved on. Maybe that too would then continue for 400 odd years....