The Treasures Committee
I attended the second meeting of the Treasures Committee and it is already apparent that this will be a most valuable (pardon the pun) committee within the Company.
Policies are now in place for purchasing items that may come up for auction with connections to the Tylers and Bricklayers, and storage arrangements for certain items stored in the vaults at Carpenters Hall that are no longer used, are now in place.
Court Meeting, Masters and Clerks Lunch, Brewers Hall
Court meetings of the Company provide Committee Chairmen with opportunities of updating the Court on their recent activities, and are all of particular interest and value.
I was delighted to be able to install Kate Oldridge as a Freeman, and John Gorman and Robin Harvey as Liverymen of the Company.
As soon as the Meeting was over, Liveryman Clare Banks set up a small photographic studio to take photos of the officers and court assistants so that the “Rogues Gallery” on the website can be updated.
At lunch we were joined by Masters Mason, Plaisterer, Paviour and Framework Knitter, along with their Clerks for a “beer” related lunch. It had been great fun arranging the menu and given the un-June like rain outside, the beef & mushroom pie in an India Pale Ale sauce was most welcome!
Next morning there was short journey to Davy’s Vaults at Greenwich, a former brewery and now home to the offices, part warehouse, and restaurant of our wine suppliers.
This particular meeting was concerned with the selection of red wines to forward buy and updating the selection of white wines, port and champagne to have on the list of wines available to buy for events during the Master Elect’s year.
Freedom of the City for the Upper Warden’s Consort
Our first engagement of the week was to join Maureen Saminaden, Consort of our Upper Warden, for the Ceremony installing her as a Freeman of the City of London. I was delighted to be her first sponsor, and David Cole-Adams her second.
The party included Upper Warden, Michel Saminaden, Renter Warden Simon Martin, Deputy Master David Szymanski and Hilary, and Past Master Ian Grimshaw.
The Ceremony was conducted by Deputy Clerk Laura Miller. No matter how many times I attend this special Ceremony each is different. After swearing the oath, Laura talked about previous American Presidents who had been made Freemen, this was because Donald Trump was on a State Visit at the time, and showed us some of the very ornate certificate holders made for past Freemen. One for Margaret Thatcher had the image of Number 10 on 1 end and Guildhall on the other.
After pausing for photos, we repaired to the Trading House for a most convivial lunch.
A Musical Evening with the Mercers
World renowned Endellion String Quartet along with Guy Johnston (cello) played for the Livery Masters and Consorts in in the marvellously acoustic Livery Hall at Mercers Hall. On their own the Quartet played Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 20 No. 6, and with Guy Johnston Schubert’s Quintet for String Quartet and extra cello. The music was a joy to listen to and fully held the audience’s attention.
Afterwards Mercer’s hosted a supper for the guests and we had the chance to dine with Master Mariner and his consort Liz, and Prime Warden Dyer and his consort Helga. It was a pleasure to meet all as we had not met them before and within a few minutes we were firm friends, discussion on the upcoming Ironbridge weekend and how to put the world to rights made the evening complete!
Partners Visit to Charterhouse
The Charterhouse played host to the 2019 Partners Visit. Originally a cemetery for victims of the Black Death, the Charterhouse became one of the most important monasteries in London until it was dissolved by agents of Henry VIII. A grand mansion was built from the ruin. Suttons Hospital in Charterhouse was established in 1611 to provide a home and care to a community of elderly brethren and schooling for poor scholars which has been doing since. In modern times Charterhouse is a home for elderly people with financial constraints, and provides a community service of full board in some beautiful surroundings.
Ts&Bs will have noted the beautiful Elizabethan brickwork along with monastic stones in all the buildings that make up Charterhouse.
After the visit the group repaired to Carluccio’s for a most convivial lunch.
Masters visit to Ironbridge
All 110 Masters and Consorts are invited to attend the Livery weekend at Ironbridge in Shropshire and on this occasion over 90 Masters attended along with the Lord and Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs and members of Livery Companies from Glasgow, Chester and Shrewsbury.
Although I had visited Ironbridge many times during my working life, we took the decision to drive up to Ironbridge a day early so that we could visit the RAF Museum at Cosford. It turned out that the decision to leave early was correct as many of those driving on the Friday had awful journeys in the rain.
The Group stayed at the Holiday Inn in Telford and were bussed in to Ironbridge over the weekend. On the Friday afternoon the Masters and Consorts attended a work shop intended to talk about the future of the Livery movement in the 21st Century. The workshop came up with a number of ideas for the Livery Committee to take forward which included improved communications with the world outside the Livery Movement via websites, social media etc, inter-livery collaboration, more informality. After the workshop we stayed at Enginuity for dinner before heading back to the hotel.
As we looked out of the window on Saturday morning it was obvious that umbrellas would be the order of the day and no need for the summer clothing either as it was quite cold. Our first port of call of the day was Jackfield Tile Museum, and for yours truly this was very much a pilgrimage to see the beautiful tiles in the Museum and John Scott Collection. After that it was a short visit to the newly restored Iron Bridge and then to Coalbrookdale for the Museum of Iron. Thankfully the rain eased off in the afternoon so we had a short visit in the dry to Blists Hill Village and Coalport. In the evening it was back to Coalbrookdale for the Presidents Dinner.
On the Sunday morning there was a short meeting where the Masters and Consorts agreed two separate Past Masters and Past Consorts organisations to be named Apollo 19 and Saturn respectively to commemorate the 50 years since the first moon landing, and then it was off to the Darby Houses and to see the collection of historic costumes.
One of the joys of attending this weekend is the opportunity to meet Masters and Consorts that we would not necessarily come across during the course of the year, and to make new friends.
Off to the Palace!
As Master it is normal that you receive an invitation to attend one of the Garden Parties hosted by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.
In the few days preceding the event, we had been studying the weather forecast in the hope that it would be a warm sunny day, sadly this was not to be.
We lunched with Master Glover Rodney Jagelman and his wife Sue, and Master World Trader Edwina Morton and her friend Jill at the Rubens Hotel before heading to the Grosvenor Gate and into the Palace Gardens.
By the time we left the hotel it was raining quite heavily but the garden walls protected us from the elements to a degree and in true British fashion, we just got in with it!! Once into the gardens we walked over to where the Royal party was due to pass, and on our way bumped into several Masters also there for the occasion.
Thankfully there was quite a tall gentleman in front of me who protected me from the chilly wind and fortunately I was able to look between him and his wife to see what was going on. We saw the current PM Theresa May and Archbishop Sentanu arrive at the Royal Tea Tent, along with a number of diplomats and guests in national dress.
The Queen was preceded by Prince Harry in heading to the Royal Tent. I understand there were a number of other members of the Royal Family present but we did not see them.
We then headed to the main tea tent for a refreshing cup of tea and sandwich.
We had a short walk around the gardens, but by this time we were quite cold so headed home for a hot cup of tea!
Cadet Open Day
I was delighted to accept an invitation, along with Col. Ian Ogden our RE Liaison Officer, to join over 200 RE Army Cadets at the Open Day at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, particularly as our Charitable Trust had made a grant in support of the event.
The Cadets from London, Kent, South East and Suffolk were split into groups and made their way around three areas, RE Tradesmen, RE Capability and RE as a Soldier.
The RE Tradesmen was of particular interest as the Cadets were challenged to undertake some bricklaying. Using some smaller sized bricks and mortar they had to build a three level rectangle which had to be level and plumb. I suspect that the Cadets learned that bricklaying was not as easy as originally thought, but all groups had a go, and I was particularly pleased that Tunbridge School for Girls Grammar won the prize, which I was delighted to present.
The RE Capability took place at Upnor, where cadets had to take a chicken, fox and grain across water without the fox eating the chicken, and the chicken the grain! The poor “chicken” and “fox” looked a tad sunburnt by the time we saw them! In this same area I saw the work of the UXB officers and large Plant team
The RE Soldier section required the Cadets to complete an assault court, a climbing wall and command tasks.
All three sections required physical and mental stamina and I suspect there were some very tired Cadets at the end of the Day. At the Prize Giving there were awards for bricklaying (previously mentioned) and Capability.
I left the Barracks having had a great day and a smile on my sun-kissed face.
Business and Industry Dinner
I had received an invitation to attend the Business and Industry Dinner hosted by the Lord and Lady Mayoress at Mansion House a few weeks earlier and had not come across any other Master attending. As it turned out I was one of only four Masters attending the event, so it was a real honour to be able to represent the construction industry.
The seating plan had put me alongside some former colleagues in the industry so I was able to catch up on all matters relating to the sector, and rather sadly, listen to news of the Grenfell Inquiry.
The principal guest of the evening was Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy. Also making a speech was the Director General of the CBI who spoke passionately on behalf of UK plc on the subject of Brexit encouraging the Government to finalise the matter as soon as possible.
Freedom of the City
I was delighted to be able to attend the ceremony at Guildhall in which John Gorman was made a Freeman of the City of London along with our Learned Clerk John Brooks.
It is such a special occasion, especially when Murray Craig officiates. Once the formal part of the Ceremony was over Murray congratulated John and told a number of stories involving other newly made Freemen, such as Ken Dodd.
After the ceremony we joined John’s family for a delightful lunch in nearby restaurant.
Worshipful Company of Launderers
I had been a little surprised to receive an invitation to join the Worshipful Company of Launderers for their Annual Banquet at Drapers’ Hall.
On arriving all was revealed as Master Forbes MacDougall explained that, as the Launderers were about to support a student at Christ’s Hospital, he felt it important to invite the Masters of Companies who already supported students at this wonderful school.
I was delighted to be seated alongside Master Cook, Needlemaker and Carmen, and so was able to exchange news and views on our lives as Master.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by three students from Christs’ Hospital, a singer, violinist and saxophonist, and I sat in awe as I listened to their musical talents.