The period in my year as your Master between mid November and end January has been no less fascinating and varied than the opening month and a half.
It began with the swearing in on 13 November of the new Lord Mayor, Jeffrey Mountevans, the 4th Baron Mountevans, at the Silent Ceremony in Guildhall, a most impressive and ancient event. Immediately after it, I had the enormous pleasure of leading a delegation of the Company at the Presentation of Addresses in Guildhall Library, where we presented Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden with a gift of 12 champagne flutes engraved with the Company’s badge. The Lord Mayor and the two Sheriffs each received gifts from their respective Livery companies in what was a formal but intimate and light-hearted occasion.
On the Monday afterwards, I attended the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. 700 guests were packed into Guildhall. There was plenty of pomp and ceremony, with trumpeters and musketeers, and ambassadors, judges and other dignitaries being presented to the Lord and Lady Mayoress. The list of speakers at the Banquet would take some beating: the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Prime Minister, the Lord Mayor, and the Minister of Justice Michael Gove.
The following weekend provided an interesting contrast but was no less inspiring, when the Renter Warden as Craft Committee Chairman and I, together with our wives, went to SkillBuild at the NEC in Birmingham. We were generously hosted by Ray Horward and his team from the NFRC on the Friday night and, on the Saturday morning, we enjoyed watching all three of our crafts being performed competitively to a high standard. I look forward to seeing the winners being presented with their awards by Sheriff Christine Rigden at the Company’s lunch at Trinity House on 7th March.
Next was the Worshipful Company of Paviors’ Autumn Livery Dinner at Goldsmiths’ Hall, to which the Clerk and I were invited as guests of their Master, Terry Last. The Hall was a picture with the candles lit in the four large candelabras hanging from the ceiling. Canon Ann Easter spoke most amusingly in her response on behalf of the guests.
At the end of November, Caroline and I attended the Mercers’ Company Livery Concert in their impressive Hall. An ensemble from IMS Prussia Cove treated a wide range of Masters and their partners to a programme of Dvorak and Brahms. There was a supper afterwards at which we had the pleasure of sitting with Master Cutler, Master Distiller and Master Tobacco Pipe Maker and their wives.
In the fortnight before Christmas, we were guests of the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, at his Drinks Reception held in the Deanery at 51 Bankside. We met a number of interesting people with close associations to the Cathedral and its charitable works. The Georgian Grade II listed building is beautiful and enjoys a spectacular view of St Pauls Cathedral and the City of London across the river. The fact that Sir Christopher Wren had lived in the then building next door when he designed St Pauls may explain it!
Following the Christmas and New Year holidays, and an opportunity to recharge my batteries, the Clerk and I were guests of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers at their annual dinner. It was a splendid occasion with the Masters of around 70 Companies present in their attractive Hall.
And most recently, I joined Sheriff Christine Rigden as her guest for lunch to meet Her Majesty’s Judges at the Old Bailey. We drank champagne from the flutes given to her by the Company before lunch. At the lunch, I had the pleasure of sitting next to the Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard, who had known my father, and His Honour Judge John Bevan QC, one of our liverymen. He invited me to sit in Court after lunch, where one of the two accused of murder was being cross-examined. As someone who has practised law in the City for 35 years, the whole occasion was a fascinating treat.
More events are in the diary but at time of writing I am looking forward to seeing many of you next Thursday at Common Hall and the launch of the book of Company’s history, They Built London.