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 http://www.cutlers-hallamshire.org.uk/

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 http://www.atomising.co.uk/ 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 http://www.sonsoftheclergy.org.uk/

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: www.davidrossdale.wordpress.com


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 http://www.merchantventurers.com/ 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 londonreconnections.blogspot.com and Going Underground - the name of the site inspired by The Jam hit - london-underground.blogspot.com  

The latter has recently posted the story of a team known as Stickers on the Central Line stickersonthecentralline.tumblr.com 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.

Monday, 23 May 2011


On Monday Alastair Ross, Andy Mellows, our Head of Charities and myself travelled up to North Wales for the the Master's Annual Visit to Bangor University.  Our links with the university go back to 1890, only six years after its foundation.

Despite our excellent archives the reason why we began to support the newly created University College of North Wales, as it then was, are obscure.  However it is almost certainly connected with the endowment of Thomas Howell (c1480-1537), an immensely rich early sixteenth century.  He was born in North Wales and came down to London.  In the 1520s he established a major position of domination in the Anglo-Hispanic trade living for many years in Spain during a period that saw the transformation of the country following the discovery of the Americas.  He died childless and left his very considerable fortune in trust to the Company.

The story of the Howell's endowment is very complex and for some centuries its prime purpose was to provide dowries for girls of his line or from North Wales.  By the mid-nineteenth century the original purpose of the charity 'to provide dowries for deserving Welsh maidens with an indicated preference for orphan girls for orphan girls of his own lineage' seemed to be almost frivolous in a more pragmatic age.  The Hall received a regular stream of largely London-based claimants with far fetched stories of descent from Howell's family.

The charity was therefore reorganised by two acts of Parliament to create two Howell's girls' schools at Llandaff and Denbigh and a broader charity to support educational activity in North Wales, today called the Thomas Howell's Fund for Education.  Part of the latter, with other Drapers' Company funding,  goes to support activities at Bangor University.

A view of the central part of the Bangor University campus looking north to Angelsey across the Menai Strait.  The Library, that was built after a large grant had been made by the Company between 1909-11 is the stone building on the left of the tower
Today Bangor is a thriving university occupying a beautiful location on the nort Wales coast.  For more details go to www.bangor.ac.uk/

Our host throughout the visit was Professor Colin Baker.  Colin is a Pro Vice Chancellor of the University and its Professor of Education.  He is also a Freeman of the Company.

We covered a lot of ground during the visit starting with a most pleasant dinner with the recently appointed Vice Chancellor Professor John Hughes and other members of the faculty.

The next morning stated with a visit to the School of Electronic Engineering formerly the focus of a noted Bangor Liveryman Professor Wynn Humphrey Davies.  We consider progress arising both from Wynn's recent bequest, of which the Company are trustees, of creating closer links with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by exchanging students.  Also we returned to that perennial problem as to how best could we help students with good STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) abilities get into university, especially if family finances are tight.

We then moved to the Council Chamber to consider potential PhD scholarship candidates proposals in Modern Languages and then heard the two currently Draper funded PhD students, Emma Roberts (Compensation for Personal Injury in Europe - Harmonisation on the Horizon? ) and Lauren Mawn (Transformational Leadership and the Student Experience) update us on their work.  We were impressed.

We then toured the Library to consider planned work.  It is always hard not to get involved as Master when there are Drapers' insignia wherever one looks.

Then it was on to a presentation about the most recent visit of ten undergraduate students from the School of Ocean Science to Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences field school on the Atlantic coast that was partially funded by a Drapers' Company grant. All we spoke to were excited with not only the chance to work in a completely different habitat than the rocky coast of north Wales but also to see a bit of the States.

Finally we reviewed the budget for next year including our contribution to the Hardship fund and an interesting idea of a possible PhD project to consider some part of the Company's archives where much still remains to be studied.

This is a much longer post than normal.  But it was really great, and also a little humbling, to see the tremendous enthusiasm and opportunity that Drapers' funding stimulated across this lively university.  Our particular thanks to the Vice Chancellor, department heads and especially Prof Colin Baker for a stimulating visit.


On Friday lunchtime I was invited by the Goldsmiths' Company to be a witness at the Trial of the Pyx. The Trial of the Pyx (A word of Greek derivation referring to the box that held the coins for testing) is an ancient practice whereby the Exchequer, using the expertise of the Goldsmiths' Company Freemen, check the quality of Royal Mint production.  These days with the coinage being exclusively of base metal the correct bullion content is not a matter at issue, although commemorative coins and medals are, of course, still struck in precious metals.

The Trial is conducted by the Queen's Remembrancer, the last surviving member of the Court of Exchequer, who wears a most distinctive headdress of a full-bottomed wig with a tricorn hat sewn onto its crown.  The Clerk of the Goldsmiths' Company, Dick Melly, read out a precis of the current trail before and assemblage of guests drawn from the City, the Royal Mint - who in a manner of speaking were not guests as their work was on trial - and others. 

The Trial was for the first time since 1997 conducted before the Chancellor of the Exchequer who is the Master of the Royal Mint.  In recent years the Chancellor's statutory responsibilities to receive the verdict of the Trial has been delegated to a succession of junior ministers.  George Osborne's appearance was thus most welcome and he looked the part in a splendid set of robes in black and gold that had originally been made for Gladstone when he was Chancellor of Exchequer - Gladstone in addition to being prime minister four times was also Chancellor of the Exchequer twice for a total of ten years.

Queen's Remembrancer Master Steven Whitaker received Dick Melly's verdict that the coins presented had been found to be within acceptable variation and then proceeded to give a masterly historical overview of the fortunes of the Court of Exchequer over the centuries.  It was a story of once great powers successively pruned with himself as the last survivor of the earliest recorded court of England. An outcome that he accepted with dignity.  

George Osborne MP received the verdict and congratulated the Royal Mint for yet again passing the Trial.  The outgoing Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths' Company, Michael Galsworthy, reflected the opinion of all present when he warmly welcomed the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this ancient ceremony.


On the steps of Fishmongers' Hall with our empty buckets ready to go out and charity mug hapless commuters starting their day's work in the City.  I am looking rather serious in the middle at the back and Alastair Ross, the Clerk, is also on the far right in the rear.  The two Sheriffs, Fiona Woolf and Richard Sermon, are on the scarlet robes on the middle steps.
The Livery Companies were asked by the Sheriffs to help collect for the British Red Cross on and around London Bridge on the morning and afternoon.  To really put the fear into the giving public we were asked to appear in full livery.

I was on the morning shift with Alastair Ross, the Clerk.  We started at Fishmongers' Hall, just on the north side of London Bridge. With a number of others I decided to head northwards to Bank and I set up post outside one of the exits.

It has to be said, after at least a couple of hours close observation that the average commuter leaving Bank station in the morning rush hour is seemingly so ground down by the London Underground 'experience' that charitable giving has become a very low priority.  Even my decidedly unusual dress on a very warm late spring morning excited no comment.  But with iPods full on it is difficult to make anything other than eye contact and conversation is quite impossible.

I had clearly chosen a particularly non-productive site and after an hour or two, although my bucket was heavy it contained a lot of twopenny pieces. Others, especially those on London Bridge itself did significantly better.

We were kindly given bacon sandwiches and other refreshment by the Fishmongers before going back to work.  Later we were told we had raise some £3000.  I fear my contribution was just over 2% of that.  But I have made two firm resolutions: to smile warmly at other charity collectors with buckets in future and at least give something.  So far both resolutions are holding up.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


On Thursday there was a choral evensong service at St Michael's, Cornhill to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the Authorised Version of the Bible.  Although this was not a Company sponsored service we had agreed to cover the cost of a reception at the Hall afterwards.

Rev Peter Mullen and the Director of Music Jonathan Rennert had put together a beautiful choral evensong service.  In addition to the choir that does such an excellent job there was also a concert of viols.

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, who is also a Liveryman of the Company, gave the address where amongst other issues he explored the huge success that Bishop Lancelot Andrewes and others who worked on the Authorised Version achieved in their synthesis of widely varying doctrinal positions into a single text.  Furthermore it was a single text that not only resolved key doctrinal issues but also produced an outstanding work of literature. 

I do not go to evensong very often these days and it was a particular treat not only to listen to a fully sung service accompanied by viols and the recently restored church organ but also to hear Lord Judge's stimulating address.


Members of the Company will be reassured that the Wardens successfully completed their count of the Company's plate on 5 May and found everything in order.  Yet again we were impressed with the work that Tim Haydon does in keeping the silver in good order.  Away from the Hall Tim is an ardent supporter of Leyton Orient Footballl Club and a very active memmber of the Supporters' Committee.  For more details go to www.orientsupporters.webeden.co.uk/the-committee  This is a calling that requires considerable optimism that, on occasion, is rewarded by great success.  Tim says that at least working at the Hall he gets his hands on some silver.

This was the followed by the monthly Court of Wardens meeting.  Following the Court of Wardens meeting it is traditional to admit individuals to the Freedom of the Company and advance Freemen to the Livery.  On this occasion we were delighted to admit two new Freemen:

Araminta Wieloch, daughter of Freeman Peronelle Wieloch and Liveryman Colonel Wolf Rupert Weiloch.

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Antelme DSO (see various posts about 1st Battalion Welsh Guards)


The conclusion of 17th Concert Season and the 51st concert in the Hall was on Tuesday evening.  It was a great end to the season and featured musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

The programme, performed before a packed Livery Hall, began and ended with excellent performances by the Carter Wind Quartet - comprising Emily Heathcoate, clarinet, Holly Rearden, bassoon, Emma Whitney, horn, Mary Noden, oboe and Jessica Lowe, flute. Jason Anderson, a premising young composer was on piano. The Quartet started with a performance of Mozart and concluded with a most interesting composition by Poulenc.

The remainder of the programme was a number of pieces played by Grace Yeo on piano.  These were Schubert Impromptu D935,  Schumann Sonata No2 in G Minor Op 22, Ravel Ondine from Gaspard de la Nuit and concluded with three pieces by Liszt: Sonetto de Petraca 104, Concert etude Gnomenreigen and Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto. Grace gave very impressive performances that fully explored the emotional aspects of the compositions.  She held the audience spell-bound. 

Principal Barry Ife and Professor Joan Harvill of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama were present.  They have been great supporters of the Company's concert programme in the past and their enthusiasm for for what we do is much appreciated.

In my summary at the end of the performances I gave particular thanks to Sir Nicholas Jackson Bt who started the programme off in 1995 and with careful planning and imaginative choices of programme has seen it go from strength to strength.

I further noted that Sir Nicholas, in his capacity of Director of the Concertante of London, was giving a baroque recital at the Banqueting House, Whitehall on Monday 4 July with a programme including Vivaldi, Bach, Handel concluding with a full performance of the latter composer's Ode to Queen Anne's Birthday (1713).

We now look forward to the 18th season next spring.


On Tuesday afternoon Drapers' Academy was visited by HRH Duchess of Gloucester for a short visit.  However in the fifty minutes or so that she was at the Academy she managed to meet or at least be seen by almost every member of the school.

The visit started in the Dining Room where the Senior Management Team, Head Boy and Head Girl and other members of staff were served tea by Year 10 Domestic Science pupils from a beautifully laid out table.  The Duchess was so impressed she asked for a 'doggy bag' to be made up so that she could take it away.

She then moved up to the Library.  As she reached the first floor she was able to look out at the new building which is now rapidly taking shape.  In the Library there was a science class in progress finding out about our Solar System.

Then it was back in to the Hall where a dance using motifs from the Mexican Dance of the Dead was performed: not at all as gruesome as it sounds and the skull masks were extraordinarily varied and suffused with nice touches of black humour.  There was then a fashion show and further short performances.

It was then time for HRH to leave and she walked out to Settle Road along a path lined with Years 7 and 8 (11 to 13 year olds).

Throughout the sun had shone, everyone the Duchess spoke to was most clear and impressive and were all good ambassadors of the Academy.  A lot of work had gone into the visit but it had gone off perfectly.  Everyone at the Academy could look back on a day which marked another key milestone in the progress of the school.

If you want to see more pictures and comment go to http://www.drapersacademy.com/ there are some really good photographs; including the one below.

As HRH Duchess of Gloucester left the Academy Years 7 and 8 lined the path leading to Settle Road.  For full portfolio go to http://www.drapersacademy.com/


1st Battalion Welsh Guards on parade at Buckingham Palace after the Royal Wedding on Friday
The current Commanding Officer of the Welsh Guards, Lieutenant Charles Antelme DSO, sent us pictures of the guard his battalion mounted in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace on the day of the Royal Wedding.  It was yet another part of a perfectly organised day although Charles was modest enough to say that he experienced a degree of nerves.

The following week Charles became one of our newest Freeman being admitted after the Court of Wardens on 5 May.

The Company's links with the Welsh Guards are relatively new but as has been mentioned in earlier posts the linkage has already proved most beneficial.

Commanding officer, mounted on right and adjutant, mounted left, with the regimental sergeant major, dismounted further to the left.


On Thursday the Wardens carried out their annual visit to Walter's Close, Southwark in the morning  and Edmanson's Close, Tottenham in the afternoon.  The other almshouse visitation to Queen Elizabeth College had take place a week earlier (See post of 9 April).

Traditionally the visitations were the formal inspection of the almshouses but these days the Wardens receive quarterly reports as to what is going on and there is also a regular communication between the current almshouse managers. Hanover Housing, and the Company.  As a consequence the visitations are now essentially social and ceremonial events.

The visit to Walter's Close is always the least informal of the three and takes the form of a a discussion with residents over coffee, tea and cakes around eleven o'clock.  We were accompanied by Herry Lawford, who actually leads the FODAH team at Edmanson's Close - and came along on the afternoon visit as well - and Liveryman Rupert Phelps who is one of the FODAH visitors at Walter's Close.

Fola Adedosu, who runs Walter's, made us welcome and it was good to meet up with a good cross section of residents, both of long standing and new arrivals.  Inevitably much of the conversation was about the Royal Wedding next day.
Just before the service at Edmanson's Close.  Left to right: John Freestone, Beadle, William Charnley, Junior Warden, Anthony Walker, Master Warden, self, Christian Williams, Renter Warden and Alastair Ross, Clerk.  Photograph with acknowledgements to Herry Lawford.
In the afternoon we went from the Hall to Bruce Grove.  Changing in to our robes we attended a service conducted by the newly arrived Father Tony Haynes.  I gave a short address describing how the three almshouse charities created by Edmanson, Pemel and Jolles had been united nearly 150 years ago and with a further endowment had moved on to the Bruce Grove site, largely because the expansion of the railway network in London led to a lot of compulsory purchasing of land in the inner city and a better site had become available in an area which at that time was right on the fringe of London.  The success of the Edmanson's Close had been the collective work of many but a most important part had been the contribution of residents past and present to create a unique and thriving community.

Afterwards Lesley Flynn who runs Edmanson's Close and her helpers, including Mvia Wedderburn, had laid on a delicious tea.  Again discussion turned to the Royal Wedding

Throughout the sun shone brightly and Lynda Lampshire at the Hall, who acts as the secretary to FODAH, organised the day very well.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


The star of the Order of the Garter
I am delighted to report that the two appointments to be Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, always traditionally announced on St George's Day, are both liverymen of the Company.

Lord Phillips in the new Supreme Court robes.  I note in this picture he is wearing his Drapers' livery tie. 
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers is President of the Supreme Court.  Lord Boyce, a former Chief of Defence Staff and First Sea Lord,  holds a number of distinguished appointments including Warden of the Cinque Ports.  Lord Boyce will be joining the Court as Second Master Warden for the next Company year.
Admiral Lord Boyce

There are twenty four members of the order in addition to the Sovereign and Prince of Wales.  There are also members of foreign royal familie who are supernumeray memberss.  Both the Sovereign and Prince of Wales are Royal Freemen of the Company as is a supernumerary member of the order King Harald V of Norway.

Lord Bingham in his Garter robes
The only record we have of any other Draper, other than a member of the royal family, who was a Knight of the Garter is Lord Bingham of Cornhill (1933-2010) a former Lord Chief Justice.


In recent times a Court Dinner has been re-established for April and is the one where the Master can choose the theme.  This year I thought it would be of interest to  celebrate the Company's links with the textile world and invite a broad range of guests with from the fashion, manufacturing, academic and trade groups associated with the industry

Additionally when I met HRH Prince of Wales at his reception for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal (see post of 8 November) we briefly discussed his Campaign for Wool.  In subsequent discussion he said that, although he could not attend the dinner, he would send a message of support.  We were thus delighted that we could publicly associate ourselves with this initiative and that Mr John Thorley OBE the Chairman could attend.  More details of the Campaign are at www.campaignforwool.org/index

It was also an opportunity for the four Drapers who work in the textiles industry to be involved.  These are Freeman Barry Laden MBE who runs the Laden Showroom see www.laden.co.uk   Liverymen Jane Mather who is following in the footsteps of her father, Liveryman Oliver Makower, in running Makower UK, a textile design and sales business,  see www.makoweruk.com  Liveryman Polly Meynell who is a noted textile designer see www.pollymeynell.com and Liveryman Nicky Santomauro who as managing director of Lavenham is reviving the fortunes of this top of the range quilted jacket maker, see www.lavenham.co.uk

We had a broad guest list including fashion designers and couturiers, UK based manufacturers, academics and members of various trade bodies including including both Texprint and the Educational Development Trust that we support in their promotion of young talent.

Overall it was a stimulating evening and a good opportunity to recognise our roots as a Company that derives its status and wealth from what at one time was England's greatest industry and where is still so much to celebrate.


Past Master Trevor Eldrid (1916-2011) in 1977, the year he was Master

By tradition and if the family wish the Company hold a memorial service for past masters at St Michael's, Cornhill.  On the morning of 20 April a service was conducted by Past Master Rev Peter Taylor in memory of Trevor Eldrid (see post in January).

There was a good turn out and Rev Peter Taylor conducted the service with considerable affection and full recognition of Trevor's great contribution to the Company.  Past Master Sir Nicholas Jackson played the newly restored organ built by Renatus Harris in 1684 and substantially modified since 1790.  He was one of the patrons of the Appeal Committee and with others ensured this important organ has been restored to its former glory.

A lunch was subsequently held for those who attended, including Trevor's wife Pam, at the Hall afterwards.