Welcome to the February newsletter. The last day of January saw me in Eastleigh, attending a Speed Awareness Course, following which I drove (very slowly) back home to prepare for the Nominations Committee on 1 February and the Members’ Dinner at Cutlers’ Hall. At Nominations we discuss the more senior appointments, such as who should become Renter Warden in Nomination and who should join the Court. Our recommendations are then considered by the Court in March and take effect in October.


The dinner in Cutlers’ Hall is always a highlight of the year, since it is the only event where we mix amongst ourselves with no guests, principal or otherwise. The speeches are kept to a minimum too.

Seating by lottery means you get to know new people in the Company. For many years the catering has been provided by the Beadle to the Cutlers and his wife, who live in the Hall. They have given us excellent food at a very reasonable cost. Alas the Beadle is retiring this year, so we expressed our thanks to them for looking after us so well and presented David with some malt whisky and Shirley with some flowers. I also handed over champagne to the artistic winners of our Photographic Competition, namely Lesley Day, Ian Harmond and Frank Clarke.

1st February was a busy day since I attended at lunch time a meeting of Masters from the Construction Liveries Group, to discuss how the CLG should develop going forward.

More on this when we reach a consensus. At present the Chair of our Craft Committee attends quarterly CLG meetings, which does mean we have some continuity of input.

The next event was a meeting on Teams of our Livery Climate Action Group working group, chaired by Freeman Kate Oldridge. This group meets regularly and we are preparing an action plan for the Company in the field of climate change and sustainability. There is still room on the working group for volunteers who have a strong interest in this field, with Deputy Master Simon Martin the newest recruit.

The Mistress and I headed off to Hyderabad in mid month, to attend a wedding. The groom was the elder son of our principal guest at the Installation Luncheon, Sir David Bean. The wedding extended over two days and we were invited by our hosts to buy or borrow traditional costumes

The photo above shows the central, most religious, part of the two days when the priests preside in the stone building and a sacred fire is lit. The groom is far left, with a white turban, and his bride next to him. They walk clockwise round the fire seven times. I am wearing a rajah’s coat which was given to Gilly’s grandmother over a hundred years ago. The Rajasthani turbans are tied for each guest on the morning! Green for the groom’s side and red for the bride’s side on this occasion. It was a great experience

Normally the Master would compete in the Pancake Races on Shrove Tuesday, but the Poulters, who organise the event, graciously allowed our Upper Warden to compete instead. This proved an inspired move, since the actual races were rained off (Health & Safety!) and the contest took the form of competitive pancake flipping against the clock. Jenny is much better equipped for this than most Masters, and has nerves of steel, so claimed outright victory, beating all other Livery companies. Master Skinner was second.


Liveryman Michael Ash organised, as usual, his generous sponsorship scheme for those attending the Pancake Races and this raised £359 for our Charitable Trust. Thank you, Michael.

On 22 February I caught the train to Gillingham for the Royal Engineers’ Corps Guest Night at Brompton Barracks. This proved to be a splendid occasion, with the RE officers wearing scarlet mess kit, a smattering of guests from other regiments, the Royal Navy and the RAF, plus civilians in black tie. A Rear Admiral asked whether we had a Navy affiliation and when I said it was the smallest ship in the fleet he responded ‘Magpie!’. He said he always wanted to be a hydrographer but ended up flying fast jets…. I was able to talk to the Chief Royal Engineer, Lt Gen Sir Christopher Tickell, about our plans for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the affiliation between the Company and the Corps. He sounded enthusiastic so let’s hope he can attend one of the events being planned for next year. The Upper Warden and Ian Ogden are leading on this.

It was a lovely evening and a privilege to dine in the Officers’ Mess at Brompton, which in the past has seen young officers like Gordon (of Khartoum) and Kitchener enjoying their breakfast. We were there last summer too, at the Bricklaying Day organised by the Craft Committee, and are lucky to have such an active link to the Royal Engineers.

There are some good events coming up, including the Craft Awards luncheon on 19 March and the Big Curry Lunch on 18 April, so I look forward to seeing you then.

Christopher Causer