The GSWD held a special dinner at the London Zoo on Saturday 16th June 2018, exactly 325 years to the day that we received our Royal Charter from King William and Queen Mary. That year was 1693, although some 70 years earlier in 1623 the Company had initially been incorporated in the reign of James 1. The evening commenced with a Sparkling Reception on the wonderful Penguin Beach. One of the Zoo Keepers gave a great insight into Penguins, after which they were fed their evening fish dinner. Our dinner, in the regally decorated Prince Albert Suite, built in the 1830s, began with the Master welcoming GSWD Livery members and all guests as well as 12 Masters from other Liveries who were invited to join our celebrations:- Cooper, Engineer, Fruiterer, Glover, Hackney Carriage Driver, International Banker, Management Consultant, Marketor, Plaisterer, Playing Cards, Tax Advisor and Turner. This was followed by Karen Watts, our Company Archivist giving a short talk on the history of the Anniversary which included a very amusing anecdote. After dinner dancing took place to the music of David McTea and the Swinging Magpies.
On Friday 25th May the Brigantes City of London Liverymen in the North held their Breakfast at The Royal Armouries Leeds. This year the attendance of the City of London, the North Liverymen and guests increased to 400. Our Master and Mistress with PME Ken Blundell, PM Vernon Knapper, PM Michael Powell, Lesley Blundell and Christina Knapper represented the GSWD together with our Archivist, Dr Karen Watts, a professor at Leeds University, who, in the Royal Armouries Museum, gave 160 of us a fascinating, amusing and excellent lecture on the history of Armour. At the Breakfast the Speakers were Nick Gale, Past Master Plumber; Sheriff Neil Redcliffe, Past Prime Warden Basketmaker, World Trader, Pavior; Adrian Waddingham CBE, Sheriff 2013/14, Past Master Actuary, Haberdasher; General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, Chairmain - The Royal Armouries, Security Professional, Builders Merchant and David Bently Past Master Baker.
On Monday 9th April the Court Meeting and Master's Dinner was held at Skinners Hall. The dinner was preceded by the annual Church Service at St James Garlickhythe by kind permission of the Reverend Tim Handley Parish Priest and the Church Wardens. The service was taken by our Honorary Chaplain and Third Warden The Reverend Gordon Warren. Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley was clothed in the Livery as an Honorary Liveryman. Admitted into the Freedom of the Company by redemption were Michael Whitson and James Howarth. Admitted into the Freedom of the Company by redemption via the Trade Route were Chen Cheng and Hazel Thorn. Clothed in the Livery were Andrew Brown, Mark Hythe, Lewis Speke and Michael Whitson. Second Warden Michael Gunston proposed the Guests which was responded by Andrew Morgan, Principal Guest who proposed the toast to the Company. The Master presented a cheque to Miss Melanie Moughton CEO Felix Fund.
The Master and the Mistress attended the King Edward's School, Witley Foundation Day Service at St Bride's Church, London which was followed by a reception in the Guildhall Library. Each year the GSWD gives one of the end of year school prizes. In the picture from left to right is the Master of the Makers of Playing Cards Anthony Komedera, The Head Boy Umair Qasmi, The GSWD Master, The Head Girl and an Ex Pupil who is a great supporter of the school. The School's Governing Body is known as The Court of Bridewell, reflecting the historic foundation of the School as Bridewell Royal Hospital in 1553 during the reign of Edward VI.
The Master presented the GSWD Jewellery Awards for the innovative use of gold and silver wires. The ceremony was organised by the Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council and held on Monday, 26th February. Judith Cobham-Lowe OBE, Prime Warden Goldsmiths, presided and was the Master's guest at the special private viewing the following day of all the prize winning entries. Our two winners were Elisavet Messi, a Greek jeweller, who handcrafts limited collections and bespoke pieces from her London based studio and Kyosun Jung from Korea who completed BA Hons, Silversmithing, Goldsmithing & Jewellery at University for Creative Arts in Rochester UK. She is currently working in the UK in the workshop of the internationally renowned Clive Burr at the Goldsmiths' Centre in London. Our party consisted of almost 50 people, which was excellent considering the very bad weather. The viewing was followed by a supper at the nearby Haz St Paul's Restaurant.
On Wednesday, 31 January the GSWD were treated to a private visit at the Charles Dickens Museum, Doughty Street. We had three excellent guides who uncovered for us the private world behind the author's public image. We explored his study, reception rooms and family bedchambers. We saw Dickens's desk, handwritten drafts from the novels he wrote there and his young wife's engagement ring along with furniture, portraits, etc. The event was organised by our Clerk, Mark Charles Dickens, who is the author's great great grandson. Prior to our tour he told us personal stories about the great man.
Common Hall and Installation was held at Skinners' Hall on 8th January 2018. The Master, Paul Constantinidi witnessed the unbinding of Apprentice William Colgate and then admitted him to the Freedom by servitude (master Liveryman JRL Nuttall). The Master then welcomed into the Company new Liverymen Karen Brewer, Sean Eley, Ronald Ng, Laura Warren and Alistair Whitehead before handing over the reins to First Warden John Walsham who was then installed as The Master for the coming year. Brian Turner was sworn in as Fourth Warden, The Rev. Gordon Warren - Third Warden, Michael Gunston - Second Warden and Malcolm Craig - First Warden. The Guests Toast was Proposed by Assistant Nick Sillitoe with the Response by Nigel French, Principal Guest. He then Proposed the Toast to the Company with the Response by The Master, John Walsham.
The Worshipful Companies of Needlemakers - Master Colin Tiffin Esq and Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers - Master Paul Constantinidi Esq held a combined Carol Service at St James Garlickhythe by kind permission of the Reverend Tim Handley. Honorary Chaplains were The Rt Rev Christopher Chessun The Bishop of Southwark - Needlemakers and The Rev Gordon Warren and Fourth Warden - GSWD. The Organist & Director of Music was Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley. The congregation bought presents to be distributed to deserving children by the Salvation Army on Christmas Eve.
The Mansion House Livery Banquet was held on 24 November 2017. The Lord Mayor Alderman Charles Bowman and the Lady Mayoress attended accompanied by both Sheriffs and their wives. The Guest Speaker was Major General Tim Hyams OBE Royal Dragoon Guards. A stair guard was formed by Sea Cadets and St John Ambulance Cadets from our affiliated cadet units. The music was provided by the pipes and drums of the band of the Royal Dragoon Guards.
This is the second year that GSWD has awarded a prize, for the submission featuring the best use of Goldwork, at the Hand & Lock event held annually at the Bishopsgate Institute for Hand Embroidery – Fashion and Textile Art, Wilcom Digital Embroidery – Fashion and Textile Art, plus the GSWD Award. Hand & Lock, in celebration of their 250th anniversary, presented an additional Chairman’s Award. This competition takes place to encourage the use of embroidery in fashion and textile and now welcomes in excess of 500 entries annually from all around the world. Liverymen Liz Elvin and Jean Scott-Moncrieff were on the panel of judges.
The Post Office Railway, known as Mail Rail since 1987, is a 2ft (610mm) narrow gauge, driverless underground railway in London to move mail between sorting offices. It operated from 1927 until 2003. The museum within the former railway was opened in September 2017. The line ran from Paddington in the west to Whitechapel in the east, a distance of 6.5 miles and had eight stations. Special tourist trains were installed in late 2016 and the circular route was opened on 5th September 2017. Our group found the visit both interesting and enjoyable.
The Meeting and Court Dinner was held in the beautiful and prestigious Mercers' Hall. Mark Hyde, Ronald Ng, Alistair Whitehead, Robert Whittingham were admitted to the Freedom of the Company by redemption and Sebastian Budd was admitted to the Freedom by patronage. Andrew Lamb was admitted to the Freedom of the Company by redemption (Trade route). Mark Russell and Robert Whittingham were clothed in the Livery. Third Warden Michael Gunston proposed The Guests and Alderman The Rt Hon, The Lord Mountevans of Chelsea (Lord Mayor 2015-16) responded. The musical interlude was superbly given by Nardus Williams (Soprano - GSWD Bursary Student) and Chad Vindin (Piano) by kind permission of the Principal, Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
The Master arranged for 71 members and their guests to participate in a Blue Badge Walk on 13th September meeting at The Leadenhall Building aka The Cheesegrater. For the walk the party was split into 4 groups with excellent Tour de Force London guides. This was followed by a Drinks Reception with canapes hosted by Aon in their Clients Suite. Charles Bowman, who is the Alderman for Lime Ward, attended and responded to the Master's speech.
On Sunday 3rd September Robert Byng, owner of Wrotham Park and Assistant Julius Oberegger, owner of The Haven generously sponsored a Charity fundraising day, which started with Charles Dace's enlightening pre tour talk on the history of Wrotham Park, a magnificent neo-Palladian English country house, designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 for Admiral John Byng. After this visit we then were treated to a four course gourmet lunch at the Haven. It was the 11th year that the owner, Assistant Julius Oberegger had generously donated this with all the proceeds going to the GSWD 2nd Charitable Trust.
On 27 July The Master, Mistress, 5 Liverymen and the Clerk were royally entertained by the Commanding Officer of 814 Squadron - the Flying Tigers, at RNAS Culdrose. The group flew from Gatwick to Newquay where they were picked up by one of the Merlin's and given a stunning tour of Cornwall by air, which culminated in their arrival at RNAS Culdrose. After lunch in the Wardroom the Master's group was shown around the base with a tour of 824 Squadron, who train pilots. They then visited the Air Traffic Control Tower followed by the Met office and radar rooms. The day finished with the Master exchanging gifts with the 814 Squadron's Commanding Officer Brendan Spoors.
The Master attended in July 2017 the Royal Opera House end of year performance given by the very talented Royal Ballet School students. This was followed by the Prize Giving and Graduation of the ballet students at the attached London School in Floral Street. Our two Prize Winners were Albjon Gjorliaku (Orlando Ballet) and Nadia Mullova-Barley (The Royal Ballet - Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme)
The Court Meeting and Dinner was held at Skinners' Hall on 3 July. The Honour Guard was provided by The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers, Detachment Commander, Ensign Richard Ward. Julius Oberegger was installed as Assistant on the Court. Laura Williams, prizewinner 2016, admitted to the Freedom of the Company by Redemption (Trade Route). Laura Warren, Mark Russell and Sean Eley were admitted to the Freedom of the Company. Alexandra Constantinidi was clothed in the Livery. The Fourth Warden, Rev Gordon Warren, proposed the Guests and the response was by Principal Guest, Rev Canon David Parrott, Chaplain to the City of London Corporation. Elena Thornton was presented with the GSWD prize for her award winning entries which were on display. The musical interlude was performed by Oscar Pavey (Chorister) and Andrew Carwood (Director of Music - Piano) (by kind permission of the Headmaster, St Paul's Cathedral School).