Sunday, 10 July 2011


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.

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