It is a huge honour to have been installed as Master of the Framework Knitters Company for the 2021-2 year and I hope you will enjoy reading about the various events and activities in which I am involved.
7th October - Horners Company banquet
Diana and I attended a splendid banquet of the Horners Company in Mansion House as a guest of the Master, Martin Muirhead. It was their first ‘live’ event for many months, and was attended by, perhaps, 250 people. All the attending livery masters and their consorts were seated on the same spur of tables, so we were very comfortable with each other, because our paths had often crossed at earlier events in recent months, albeit usually briefly. The Horners' annual awards were presented by Sir Andrew Parmley, and the main speaker was Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England and a Cordwainer. You may have seen him on television throughout the pandemic, often alongside the Prime Minister at briefings. Excellent speeches, and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
6th October - Annual Musicians' Service
Diana and I attended the annual Musicians’ Service at St Paul’s Cathedral, along with a number of our liverymen. Upper Warden Liz Fox, Gallant Clerk Shaun and I robed in the crypt before the service and processed in. There were over 60 livery companies represented in the procession, and the chaos as we tried to arrange ourselves in order of precedence was actually quite fun. The service was evensong according to the a version developed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (a good Nottinghamshire lad who was executed just before fellow Notts lad William Lee invented the Knitting Frame). The choir and organ were magnificent, although sitting under the great dome some of the detail gets lost in the 12 second reverberation time. We could have done with a third hymn, since the two we did sing were sung with full voice by the congregation of liverymen and clerks around me. There was no sermon, but a long list of those members of the Musicians Livery Company who had died since the last service in 2019 was followed by Elgar’s Elegy for Strings, played by the Royal College of Music String Orchestra. Sadly, that was their only contribution, as it was lovely.
The service was followed by a reception in the crypt.
1st October - Framework Knitters' Museum, Ruddington
I visited the Framework Knitters’ Museum in Ruddington to see the progress that has been made in the Museum development project since the builders handed the site over. It is beginning to look splendid with new displays, new interpretation and new reception, garden, shop and cafeteria. We are all looking forward to the soft opening on 20th October, with an official opening a couple of weeks later.
29th September - Common Hall
Michaelmas, the day for the election of the next Lord Mayor.
Shaun and I met for breakfast before walking to the Guildhall to prepare. Performing one of the many duties of the Clerk, he helped me robe and attach my chain of office. All the Masters then had to be organised in reverse order of precedence - we are number 64 of 110 (assembling us in order is not an easy task) before the Masters processed into the hall at the beginning of the ceremony. After being warned that if we were not liverymen we must leave the hall on pain of imprisonment, the Lord Mayor processed in with his retinue. The important members carried nosegays, reminding us of the days of the great unwashed. The election proceeded with its usual ceremonial. The Livery were presented with five candidates, two were rejected and told that they should present for candidature later, and we offered two candidates for the Aldermen to consider. As planned, Vincent Keaveny, Citizen and Framework Knitter, was duly elected Lord Mayor of the City of London for the ensuing year.
Any Liveryman who has not attended this Common Hall, or the one to elect the two Sheriffs on Midsummer Day, I would strongly advise to do so. It is a wonderful event full of history and tradition. The first time I went, I bored everybody rigid afterwards about what I had experienced.
Framework Knitters attending Common Hall then adjourned to Butcher’s Hall for lunch.
27th September - meeting of Textile Livery companies
Shaun and I joined a meeting of the Textile Livery companies. We started our meeting at the current Museum of London with an explanation of their plans, then discussed forthcoming work of the group, particularly the Textile Sustainability Conference to be held on 12th May 2022 in Drapers Hall. We then all walked to Smithfield to see the site of the new Museum of London due to open in 2024. The whole site is staggering in its sheer size and ambition. Currently it uses more scaffolding than any other project in London, as the buildings are being redeveloped, refurbished and ready for the museum to eventually move in. I was most impressed, and looking forward to seeing the project develop further.
Afterwards, Shaun and I went to Haberdasher’s Hall to discuss details of the forthcoming banquet there.
26th September - London sheep drive
Diana and I attended the annual sheep drive, this year across Southwark Bridge, and I was able to exercise my right to herd animals across a city bridge without paying a toll. Had I been going to sell them, the absence of a toll would have increased my profits, a significant benefit to Freemen of the City.
I was fully robed and wore my bonnet, with my Master’s badge on a ribbon. My photo was taken countless times: there was a large crowd enjoying the spectacle and also the stalls at both ends of the bridge. The weather was dry and mild, and that all contributed to a most enjoyable day.
25th September - Celebration of the life of Trevor Bowmer
Along with several other liverymen, I attended the celebration of the life of Trevor Bowmer, Court Assistant and Secretary of our Education Committee, who died earlier this year.
I was honoured that Trevor’s wife, Marie, asked me to explain to the packed room in Matlock Bath about the livery and Trevor’s involvement. I was, of course, able to give my own memories of and tribute to such a lovely man.
21st September - Big Curry Lunch reception at Mansion House
There was a reception held at Mansion House to celebrate the fund raising for the armed forces charities organised by The Livery in the form of The Big Curry Lunch. Despite only virtual events being held over the last year the Big Curry Lunch raised £218,000.
Our Clerk, Shaun, and I attended, along with a mix of people involved in the events. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester graced the reception with their presence, and there were many senior military figures present too, including the Chief of the Defence Staff. There were not as many representatives of other livery member companies present as I expected, but our own Liz Green, a member of the organising committee for the Big Curry Lunch was there too. It was a good opportunity to meet people from outside the Livery and often explain to them what the Livery Movement was all about.
10th to 12th September - Leicester Weekend
Sadly I was not well enough to award the prizes at the Golf Competition. Tony Jarvis won again. A highlight of the day was that Baroness Byford won the Byford Cup after trying for ten years. Congratulations!
In the morning, I attended the Ceremony of the Socks at Wigston Framework Knitters’ Museum. I had not visited before, as they normally only open on Sunday afternoons. It is so very different from the Ruddington museum and worth a visit.
A pair of socks, made at the museum, was presented to the Mayor of Wigston as rent. They were beautifully framed, and the Lady Mayor delighted with them.
I chaired the Court Meeting in Corah Hall in the afternoon. I was congratulated on the shortness of the meeting, but in reality this was because it was only some seven weeks since the previous one that had been put back by a month.
In the evening a reception was held in Leicester Cathedral, followed by dinner in St Martin’s Rooms next door. The Lord Lieutenant and I were conducted into the Great Hall by my Sword Bearer, Cadet Flight Sergeant Sheena Chouhan from Birstall 1947 Squadron Air Cadets. This was a complete innovation, as nobody knew of a Master having a sword bearer before. This year’s Master likes to be a little bit different!
The entertainment was a magician who baffled everybody. The food was plentiful, and I believe everybody enjoyed themselves.
The Annual Church service was held at Saint Peter’s Oadby and conducted by my chaplain, the Reverend Phil White. The preacher was Jon Tearne, curate. Sadly not very well attended by other than Court Members, but there were several absences due to ill health. We had a very good organist on a good organ - I love organ music.
The Barbecue at the Cottage Homes was cooked for us by Underwarden Matthew Ellis and his brother-in-law Assistant Peter Corah. The weather was nice and dry and many of the residents came and joined us for lunch and good conversation. Many people helped set up the event, with Nettie, our Homes Administrator working particularly hard. I thank all who were involved in arranging a splendid event.
I went home and slept for 13 hours!
7th September - Worshipful Company of Fletchers' 650th Anniversary church service
The Clerk and I attended the 650th Anniversary church service of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers, followed by a reception. There were, by coincidence, 65 livery companies represented. The talk of their next 650 years was rather staggering. Let’s hope that they are still going strong then! We will never know.
6th September - Jailed and Bailed
I was summoned to the Old Bailey, where I was promptly put in front of the Sheriffs and charged with causing distress to a fellow Liveryman by convincing him that there would be no wine at my dinners this year, and also boasting about the hoax at the Summer Dinner. Since I showed no remorse, I was duly sent to The Tower of London to consider my crimes.
Then, with 26 other felons, I was transported to The Tower in an old Routemaster bus. We were there to be fed on bread and water until we could raise at least £1,000 bail in aid of the British Red Cross. Fortunately I had managed £1,850 with the help of fellow liverymen and friends. The bread and water turned out to be a buffet lunch, I’m pleased to say.
My Consort, in association with other consorts of felons, went to lunch to be soothed from their worries, and were spoken to gently by a representative of the Red Cross. They met us outside The Tower to celebrate our release.
The day raised £45,810.
24th August - Brigantes Breakfast
Diana and I, Shaun and Mary Mackaness and several other Framework Knitters, went to Leyburn in Yorkshire for a Brigantes Breakfast. The Brigantes is a group set up for liverymen who live in the north of England, the originals being a Celtic northern tribe before the time of the Roman Conquest.
The meeting, attended by around some 250 people was held at the premises of Tennants Auctioneers, who began the proceedings with a lecture “A view from the Rostrum.” One of the little gems of information was about a Chinese vase brought in by a couple living in a modest £125,000 house that sold for £2.3 million. You never know what gems you might have tucked away.
The lecture was followed by a reception and lunch. My lunch companions were very interesting, and Diana, further down the table thought that the debate near her might turn into another War of the Roses! It was altogether a most enjoyable day, and invigorating to meet in lively and friendly fellowship.
10th August - Funeral of Robert Clayton
Nettie and I attended the funeral of Robert Clayton. Robert and Pat only came to the Cottage Homes recently, but his passing was not unexpected. Robert wanted Pat to be settled into her new home before he died. From the lovely tributes paid and the many present, he was clearly a man well loved by many. Sadly he was not with us long enough for us to get to know him properly. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat and her family.
26th July - Apothecaries Dinner
I attended a dinner for masters and clerks as a guest of the Apothecaries. Also attending were Immediate Past Master Ian Grundy and Gallant Clerk Shaun Mackaness.
There were 100 in attendance and past masters were included because a previous event had not been held during of the lockdown period. One of the many people I spoke to before and during the dinner was the Immediate Past Master Stationer, Stephen Platten. We quickly discovered that we had a mutual friend. Stephen had lost contact with him and I was readily able to do the honours. I also later discovered that Stephen and I were born in the same academic year in the same London borough, although we did go to different schools. One of those coincidences that the Livery is full of.
The dinner was very enjoyable with excellent food and tremendous good company. I made the mistake of going home on the late train with the result that I didn’t get to bed till 2 o’clock in the morning. Never again!
24th July - Social visit to Handel's House and Jimi Hendrix's flat
Just seven of us attended the social event visiting George Frederick Handel’s house in Mayfair and also the adjacent flat of Jimi Hendrix. The guides were superb. The first told us much about Handel, his friends, his performers and a lot of other details. The second guide showed us how a harpsichord worked and the third, in Jimi’s flat, many interesting facts about how he lived during his time in London. Lunch followed in a nearby pub and, being a small group, we had a really good discussion about the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.
23rd July - Court Meeting and Summer Dinner
In the afternoon I chaired my first Court meeting as Master. We admitted three new Freemen and then two of them were later admitted as Liverymen, and a third new Liveryman, already a Freeman. Their details will be in the next newsletter. The court considered a proposal to set up a wine committee and this was done with the new committee charged with exploring a range of issues to see whether this would be practical for our particular company. Also during the meeting, Assistant Simon Burrows was presented with the David Byers Award by Immediate Past Master Ian Grundy, in recognition for his work on the archive at Corah Hall, and for his help and assistance with various IT matters.
Afterwards, the Summer Dinner was held at Innholders Hall, with 60 diners. We were entertained by the Knox String Quartet from the Guildhall School of Music with a wide range of compositions. The food, from three-star Michelin chef Herbert Berger, was absolutely excellent and many commented to me on it very positively indeed. My favourite course was the desert, which Herbert had told me about when we discussed the menu for the evening, but, of course he would not divulge the recipe, just the ingredients, but it was pineapple marinaded in herbs and spices: a winner of many awards and absolutely special. Susan Jagelman proposed the toast to the guests, and Jim Grevatte, the manager and the curator of the Framework Knitters’ Museum in Ruddington gave a most interesting talk about the ongoing development work at the museum. He told the assembled company that more people had set foot on the moon than were currently skilled framework knitters. It has recently been put on the Red List of endangered crafts. The museum, which is the only place in the world where anybody can learn to use a frame is trying to address that issue and preserve our heritage.
The evening was a great success: the food was absolutely superb, the musicians struck just the right note, and the new freedom for my guests made for an altogether lovely evening.
19th July - Lord Mayor's Covid 19 Livery Award
I was privileged to be invited, on a very hot day, to accompany Liz Green and her son Edward to Mansion House to witness Liz being given a prestigious Covid 19 Livery Award by the Lord Mayor for her role in organising the Knitting for the Community project.
13th July - Talk to the 2021/2022 Masters Group
Along with the Upper Warden of the Spectacle Makers Company I gave a short talk to the 2021/2022 Masters Group. Ian Davies gave a most interesting talk about eyes spectacles and other sight problems. I preceded him with a short talk about framework knitting and the Luddites.
6th July - meeting with Treasurer and Clerk
Matthew, Under Warden and Treasurer, Clerk Shaun and I met in person to discuss various administrative matters informally. It is always helpful too, to run some of my weird ideas before somebody before further discussion - or abandonment!
5th July - Cottage Homes Management Committee
I attended the monthly meeting of the Cottage Homes Management Committee held virtually. It was good to hear that the new seating around the centre lawn space has now arrived and is in place, ready for more socialising. Karl continues to work hard looking after the site, and doing a wide range of little jobs for the residents. He is a real treasure.
30th June - a busy week ...
A busy week with discussions by email and telephone with our Clerk, Shaun, but no other activities.
The disruptions caused by a virus you may have heard of upset earlier arrangements, so we needed to fix a new venue for the Banquet on 22nd October. It is now settled to be held at Haberdashers Hall, which is a lovely modern hall in Smithfield. We will be discussing the menu with the caterers much nearer the time.
Sadly, many who had originally been coming to the rearranged court meeting and dinner at Innholders Hall had already planned to be away on the new date of July 23rd. The limit on the number of guests that can be invited has now been lifted.
24th June Midsummer’s Day - Elections at Guildhall
This is the day when the Sheriffs, Ale Connors and Bridge Masters are elected. There was only one representative of each livery company invited and the seating in the Guildhall was spread out. The ceremony was not as usual, and livery masters did not process in. There were no contested elections either, so all was done on a show of hands. Still a great event, though.
This was preceded by a breakfast for some of us and a lunch in the Guildhall organised by the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants. It was absolutely great to meet interesting people and do normal things again, even if socially distanced during meals. Made me feel really alive again.
22nd June - Lord Mayor’s service of Reflection and Hope
The annual United Guilds Service at St Paul’s Cathedral was cancelled some time ago. Instead there was a Lord Mayor’s service of Reflection and Hope. We were welcomed by the Dean, and the preacher was the Bishop of London. Representatives of the Catholic Church, and the Moslem and Jewish faiths also took part.
Many livery masters processed from Apothecarys Hall to the cathedral beforehand. Sadly the planned lunch I was to attend was cancelled, so I went to a museum instead!
15th June - Fletchers Company Lecture on Poll Tax Riots
Attended a most interesting virtual lecture from the Fletchers Company. It was about recent research into the Poll Tax riots (remember Watt Tyler?) and delivered by the research leaders themselves from a consortium of universities funded by the AHRC.
10th June - Inter-livery croquet
I participated in the Inter-livery croquet competition at the Sussex Croquet Club organised by The Glovers. I was partnered by friend Alan who lives not far away, who I hoped was a better croquet player than me (he was). The weather was glorious, and sun cream essential. The battle was hard fought. The winners were the Leather Sellers, who looked as it they play croquet more than occasionally. All we know is that the strongest team were the Makers of Playing Cards, who held up the rest of the table. That means we were not last. We did win one game out of five. Enormous fun, great social event and wonderful lunch laid on.
8th June - Virtual meeting with Vincent Keaveny
I attended a virtual meeting where Liveryman Vincent Keaveny described his plans for his year as Lord Mayor (subject to election, of course). We will be participating in the Lord Mayor’s Show on 13th November. If you have never seen it,it is the world’s longest unrehearsed procession with some 7,000 participants, with large crowds lining the streets of the city. Watch out for news nearer the time.
7th June - Cottage Homes Management Committee
I attended the monthly meeting of the Cottage Homes Management Committee.
3rd June - RHS lecture by Prof Alistair Griffiths
I attended an online lecture by Prof Alistair Griffiths, Director of Science & Collections, Royal Horticultural Society about how gardens, gardening and growing plants can help towards improving the wellbeing of people. His ambition is to build a more resilient gardening community who enjoy their gardens and who take positive action to benefit their gardening handprint on the planet and to maximise the health of our nation. Fascinating stuff.
25th May - Textile Livery Group and Melton Mowbray Air Training Corps
In the afternoon I attended a meeting of the Textile Livery Group. The plans for a conference on the subject of Textiles and Sustainability are developing steadily ready for the event in May 2022. Further discussion was about the fashion and textile resource website, which is expected to be an extensive resource for teachers, pre-16s, post-16s, parents and career advisors. The project is led by UK Fashion and Textiles, whose CEO is Liveryman Adam Mansell. Adam also reported that the pent-up demand for textiles and clothing is now showing up in order books, although there are considerable problems related to the changes brought about by Brexit.
In the evening, accompanied by Past Master George Turner, I visited RAF 1279 Squadron (Melton Mowbray) of the Air Training Corps. We had an opportunity to visit their facilities and chat to some of the cadets and staff, before attending a ceremony led by Wing Commander Andy Pass, awarding achievement certificates to many of the cadets, and commendations to some of the staff and, particularly one to the whole squadron from “high up in the MoD”. The final award of the evening was presenting the Framework Knitters Master’s Award to the Squadron Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Daniel McGlynn. Daniel has worked tirelessly for some 16 years and achieved much to bring the squadron to a high standard through sheer hard work and commitment. He has also organised projects across the wing, notably during the pandemic. It took a long time to read out the full citation, he has done so much. He certainly is highly deserving of our Annual Award.
24th May - Virtual tour of Capel Manor College gardens
My Consort and I went on a virtual tour of Capel Manor College gardens with the Launderers. We were both keen to see what they were like since neither of us had visited for very many years since we lived in the area – Enfield in North London. There have been considerable changes in the last 40 years!
_**21st May - Visit to Innholders Hall
The Clerk and I visited Innholders Hall to meet Herbert Berger, the Chef, to discuss the menu for the forthcoming Summer Dinner. His suggestions were very exciting and I am really looking forward to the event. Sadly I couldn’t wheedle out of him the recipe for his multi-prize winning dessert, although he did tell me the ingredients.
12th May - No Going Back Project and Barts900
In the morning I had a meeting with two representatives of the No Going Back project. This is a project working with prisoners due to be released in the near future to prepare them for work and provide housing and support on release. This is, of course, to minimise their chances of reoffending. The project is funded by a good number of livery companies led by the Mercers. The project is now ready to expand into other parts of the country from its initial pilot working with a London prison. As many will know, I have had a long experience working with prisons and prisoners and the discussion was to explore how our Liverymen might help with providing employment opportunities and / or mentoring.
In the evening I attended the launch of Barts900, an appeal for £15 million to celebrate their 900th anniversary in 2023. They plan to develop a breast Cancer Centre and clinical research area for drug trials, as well as conserve their historic Great Hall. The appeal, with the Prince of Wales as its patron is very ambitious with its aims but they are clearly very determined to raise the money. The appeal was followed by a service from the church of Saint Bartholomew the Great. Most of the singing was from an unaccompanied choir, which was absolutely beautiful. As befits a hospital, the reading by the Lord Mayor and following sermon was based on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Barts have produced a long video which will enable you to view the service and also explains the Barts' history and work and the Barts900 appeal. Click here to view the video.
11th May - virtual service in St Paul's for Clergy Support Trust
After a busy day dealing with a whole range of livery matters, it was wonderful to join a virtual service based in Saint Pauls Cathedral and gain some peace. There were contributions from the choirs of Liverpool and Southwark Cathedrals; the preacher was the Rt Rev Paul Butler. The service was held to promote and celebrate the charity formerly known as the Sons of the Clergy now called the Clergy Support Trust.
5th May - Virtual visit to Treloars
In the afternoon, I joined with a number of other Livery Masters on a virtual visit to Treloars School and College, which is for disabled children and young people from the age of 2 to 25. Treloars has been supported for many years by the Livery. The establishment has adopted leading methods to meet the complex needs of the students. They are provided with education leading to employability, confidence and life skills. The visit included the sixth form giving us an inspiring snippet of a performance yet to be held of “What the Dickens”, their own version of Oliver Twist. We saw a taste of some of Lionel Bart’s songs from his musical Oliver. We also visited Treloar Print, the printing company staffed by students which is available to all for commercial work. They also told us about their appeal for funds for the refurbishment of their theatre hall.
In the early evening, my consort Diana and I went to a virtual lecture arranged by the City Consorts Committee on the subject of the Quirks and Histories of the Liveries, given by the Clerk to the Bakers Company, Lance Whitehouse. Although I had heard some of the quirks before, some were completely new, all adding to my knowledge of some of the strange histories and activities in the City. A fascinating talk.
29th April 2021 - Lecture on Walker Kirtland Hancock
This evening I attended a virtual lecture organised by the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars given by one of their Liverymen, Anne Haley, who spoke from Gloucester, Massachusetts about the sculptor and medal designer, Walker Kirtland Hancock, who also lived in Gloucester. Apart from being a very distinguished artist, Hancock was one of the Monuments Men, who were tasked towards the end of the Second World War by General Eisenhower, to save structures, objects or documents of cultural, artistic or historic value which had been looted and hidden by the Nazis. Their work was famously featured in a film The Monuments Men. I was interested to learn that several countries still have task forces to carry out the same objectives in war torn countries.
27th April 2021 - Meet the Sheriffs
After several days replying to many emails and letters of congratulations on my appointment as Master, in the evening I attended a virtual ‘Meet the Sheriffs’ event, where the candidates for Sheriff spoke about themselves to new Masters and prospective Masters. The elections to Sheriff will be taking place on Midsummer Day as usual, but not in the form that Common Hall usually takes. The details are yet to be determined.
24th April 2021 - Installation
Certainly a novel start to my year as Master. For the first time in our 364 year history a hand-over ceremony was held not only virtually, but in advance of the Court Meeting. A ceremony, where the new Master and Wardens made their declarations, was held at the Framework Knitters’ Museum at Ruddington, near Nottingham and videoed. The video was shown at the Court Meeting a few days later, and the declarations made again in front of the virtual Court Meeting. I then became Master.
It was rather strange to find that whereas my predecessor, Ian Grundy, has been called Master throughout the meeting, suddenly I was called Master! These things take a little getting used to.
The Installation Dinner was held the following day, on Saturday 24th April, also virtually. Having been set up very capably by our Gallant Clerk, Shaun, who had determined table allocations, he had then handed over responsibilities for the Zoom management of the event to Peter and Liz Green, as Shaun was by now recovering from surgery. The event ran very smoothly. Jonathan Pears gave an excellent speech as preparation for the toast to the guests, bringing in each of the Companies who were represented by their Masters or Clerks on a timeline. That began with the Horners, since early knitting needles were made from horn, and slowly progressed to the parachute fabric, made by Heathcote Fabrics, that was used for the Mars lander a few weeks ago. The Master Horner, Martin Muirhead responded with a splendid speech on behalf of the guests, and I responded to his toast afterwards.
My table was joined by my family and some of my closest friends, which was simply wonderful, and by all accounts, all the almost 100 people attending enjoyed the evening.