On our return to London from the London Livery weekend in Glasgow, The Mistress and I were delighted to be invited to the private opening of the National Portrait Gallery. The Craft Trust gave a grant to support the restoration of the mosaic tiled floors, and it was wonderful to be back in this spectacular building after its three-year closure for renovation.
The last few days of June were very busy! On 26 June we were at Guildhall for the Election of Sheriffs. Almost all the Masters attended in full fig, gowned, badged and chained. We processed into the main hall in order of precedence before the Court of Aldermen, Sheriffs and The Lord Mayor, together with former Lord Mayors and other senior civic figures.
Alderwoman Dame Susan Langley and Alderman Bronek Masojada, both Insurers, were duly elected, and afterwards addressed us from the balcony of Stationers’ Hall.
Twelve members of the Company and guests had a wonderful luncheon at in the recently refurbished Hall, courtesy of the Master Moira Sleight. The hall has just reopened after a two year closure and is looking very fine. Later in the day, I was the guest of the Farriers’ Company at their Court dinner, again in Apothecaries’ Hall.
On 27 June I attended St Paul’s Cathedral for the celebration of Wren 300, followed by yet another dinner at Apothecaries’ Hall. The service commemorated 300 years since the death of Sir Christopher Wren, architect of the Cathedral and so much of London post-1666. Tributes were given by several senior figures in the architectural world including the Master Chartered Architect, Chris Dyson. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff Marsden were in attendance, seen here leaving after the service.
The month ended with the Master’s Trip to Kent, Wednesday 28 – Friday 30 June. Twenty-seven Company members and partners descended on the Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham, near Maidstone. The hotel is based in an 18th century house, previously a private home. It provided fond memories for several of the Company who knew it well in former years - there has been a house on this site since the 12th century.
We were transported across Kent in the luxurious coaches of the King’s Ferry, with time spent at Chapel Down Vineyard in Tenterden, where we had a fascinating outdoor tasting session!
Our day in Canterbury included a visit to Eastbridge Hospital, the Franciscan gardens with its Tudor walls, and a tour of the Cathedral followed by evensong.
During the visit we were delighted to meet the Master of Eastbridge Hospital, and the Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress and Sheriff of the City of Canterbury at Guildhall.
Our walking tour guide, Stephen, took us to the Roper Gate, the oldest remaining brick gatehouse, just outside the city walls. Despite a downpour, we managed to get a group photograph at this lesser-known attraction.
After a lovely evensong service in the Cathedral, we enjoyed a very good dinner at the Cornerhouse Restaurant in Canterbury. The food and service were of exceptionally good standard, and we were sorry to leave when our coach arrived to whisk us back to Chilston Park at precisely 10.00pm.
On the last day we visited Sissinghurst Castle gardens, and we met with locally-based members and companions for lunch. The white garden was looking superb, despite rain the day before. I am very grateful to the many people who came on the trip, and I must congratulate the Mistress who was responsible for almost all of the organization.