Today I was very pleased to be able to join my wife as her guest at the Mistress Constructor's Champagne Tea at Middle Temple. Access to this ancient and sought after venue was facilitated by the Master Constructor, Sir Vivian Ramsey, a Bencher at the Middle Temple.
The tour commenced in Middle Temple Hall with a short outline of the history of the Inns of Court from our eminent guide, Ian Mayes QC, formerly Master of the House of the Middle Temple, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers. Ian gave us an amusing insight into the rivalries between the four Inns of Court, concentrating on the escapades and antics between students of the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple.
We then walked the short distance to the Temple Church, which Ian explained is one of the most historic and beautiful churches in London. Hidden away in the Inns of Court, it has eight hundred years of history.
The Church was built by the Knights Templar, the order of crusading monks founded to protect pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem in the 12th century.
The Church is in two parts: the Round and the Chancel. The Round Church was consecrated in 1185 by the patriarch of Jerusalem. It was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world: the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It recently came to the attention of the public when it featured in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent film.
The tour then moved back to the Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, which was established in the 14th century, with its name also deriving from the Knights Templar. We were given a guided and detailed tour of the magnificent Hall, probably the finest example of an Elizabethan Hall in London, spanned by a double hammer-beam roof, begun in 1562 and little altered to the present day.
The tour ended with a visit to the library with its treasures, including the two earliest globes made in England, one a celestial globe which depicts how God would see the world from above, and the second a terrestrial globe which left a lot of room for error!
After the fascinating and educational tour we were treated to a wonderful champagne tea in the Parliament Chamber of the Middle Temple, another ancient and beautiful room adorned with amazing paintings.
This was yet another truly interesting and informative event for which we are very grateful to the Mistress Constructor, Lady Barbara Ramsey.
Tonight Maureen and I were invited to the annual True and Fair Lecture as guests of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, at Chartered Accountants' Hall. The True and Fair Lecture has long been a noted business-focussed lecture within the City with eminent financial speakers. This year was no different as the speaker was the high profile and well respected Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Paul's talk concentrated on the future prospects for the UK and the world in a global economy that is beset with so many challenges. He touched on, among other topics, the challenge of climate change and potential short term costs of changing from our current carbon dependant economies to much more sustainable economies. The good news is that in Paul's opinion, we are able to make this switch if we do so in a planned and concerted way. His concern was that some economies may take it seriously and do all that is required of them, while others may not be so willing to play ball. This was the main challenge of tackling climate change, to take along everyone together.
Paul also talked about the UK economy and the seemingly widening gap between the haves and the have nots. He articulated that two of the big drivers of this huge gap have been the very low interest rates and wage rates for the past decade which have resulted in a generation of older people who are "property rich" and a younger generation who are waiting for their inheritance to be able to get on with their lives.
Paul covered several other economic areas, making them easily digestible for such a wide audience. Following the very interesting and thought provoking talk, he took several questions from the audience, after which we retired to take some wine and canapés and continue with the good fellowship.
It was a great pleasure to attend the Joint Master Certificate and City & Guilds Livery Company Prizes Ceremony today at Mansion House. The ceremony was presided over by the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs, with the Lord Mayor presenting certificates to the worthy winners, each individually. It was great to see all the Masters of Companies who were participating, all dressed in their gowns and chains - a magnificent colourful vision.
There were three categories of awards, Apprentice, Journeyman and Master, plus some awards for outstanding contributions as well. Each award winner was called to the stage and made their declaration to their own Master as appropriate, after which the Lord Mayor handed the recipient their well earned certificate. This year, due to the Covid19 virus, it was quite comical to see the Lord Mayor touching elbows with all the winners rather than shaking hands!
Following the ceremony we all joined the award winners for refreshments, giving us the opportunity to meet and find out more about them.
A thoroughly enjoyable morning.
Tonight Maureen and I attended a fascinating lecture about the influence of the Caribbean in the City of London. The lecture was organised by the City of London Guides Association and held at the beautiful St Lawrence Jewry Church in Guildhall Yard.
Proceedings commenced with a warm welcome by the Vicar, Canon David Parrott who reminded us that this was the best church to visit in the City of London whilst warning us to not sit near the buckets strategically placed to catch the drops of rainwater slowly dripping through some holes in the roof!
The lecture was given by Blondel Cluff CBE, the Chief Executive of the West India Committee. Blondel is also the representative of Anguilla to the UK and EU, Chair of the London branch of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Member of the Advice Committee on the Royal Mint, Trustee of Princes Trust, Freeman of the City of London and co-author of several works on the Caribbean.
The audience was entertained for 75 minutes by Blondel's wonderful illustrated talk covering the Caribbean's history from long before Columbus 'discovered' the lands in 1492. It was fascinating and very thought provoking to understand the full extent of the involvement of the beautiful Caribbean Islands in the growth and wealth of the City of London.
Following the talk there were several questions from the animated audience which Blondel answered brilliantly.
The evening ended with refreshments, including wine and a fine buffet which Canon David Parrott allowed us to eat in the church. Another wonderful educational evening.
Maureen and I were delighted to be invited to join the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and many other Masters to visit the wonderful Treloar's School and College today.
Treloar's is one of the UK's leading centres of excellence for children and young people with complex physical disabilities. They offer outstanding teaching, professional care, therapy, advice and guidance so that every individual can live, learn, achieve and work towards a future that is as independent as possible. There are some 170 students aged 2 to 25 years and they are cared for and supported by around 800 staff, including teachers, support and care staff, therapists, medical staff, dietitians, visual impairment advisers, counsellors, transition staff, assistive technology technicians and engineers.
The students are contending with the most complex physical disabilities that make it impossible to attend mainstream schools and colleges. Treloar's offers these students the best possible life chances by giving them a wonderful educational experience and also by helping them to transition to the world of work and independent living.
The day commenced with a short talk by the Chief Executive and the Principal, after which we were split into small groups led by a staff member. Each group was taken to a classroom that was in session and we were encouraged to mix with the students and interact with them. My group was introduced to a small class of 6 /7 year olds who enthusiastically welcomed us and were eager to share their lessons with us. It was a joy to learn how to interact with these students, each in their own unique way, using amazing technology. We then went into their garden which is full of fun equipment which the students clearly love playing with.
At the end of each lesson the students earn "golden time" for 10 minutes in which they can choose their own activity. It was truly uplifting and awe inspiring to see the wonderful care and love given by every single member of staff, and it being reciprocated by the students. The whole group left the classroom feeling huge admiration for the work being carried out with these great students.
We were also taken to visit the residential accommodation and taken round by the Residential Manager who has been working for Treloar's for 32 years. She was equally enthusiastic to share her experiences with us and it was plainly obvious that she loves her job and is completely dedicated to the students.
After this amazing tour we were taken to the main hall which had been laid out beautifully for lunch which consisted of a very nice chicken cacciatore and rice with vegetables followed by a fruit tarte and coffee. The Lord Mayor made a short speech thanking the wonderful staff of Treloar's for all their dedicated work and also for the excellent lunch.
After lunch we were treated to a performance of Midsummer Night's Dream by Treloar's 6th form students which was, again, truly inspirational. The enthusiasm of the students and their teachers and helpers was brilliant and we were all entertained brilliantly.
The day ended with tea and cakes and more chatting and mingling with the staff and students. We all left having had a wonderful experience and feeling truly uplifted by the enthusiasm and dedication of both the students and staff.