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.
24th July - Social visit to Handel's House and Jimi Hendrix's flat
Several of us visited Handel’s House and Jimi Hendrix’s flat on the morning after the dinner organised by the social committee. Three guides talked to us in great detail: one about Handel, one about how a harpsichord works and a third about Hendrix. It was a most interesting and diverse range of talks and quite fascinating. We adjourned to a local pub for lunch and spent much time chatting on a whole range of subjects. It made for a great day, doing something normal with a group of friends at last.
23rd July - Court Meeting and Summer Dinner
There was an afternoon Court Meeting (the management committee) which was my first 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. 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.
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.