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.