Wednesday, 31 March 2010

What were you doing in 1975?

Reproduced from a letter to all Freemen and Liverymen of the Marketors 31st March 2010

In the spring of 1975
  • US citizens were evacuated from Saigon shortly before it surrendered to the North Vietnamese army;
  • The Conservative Party had just elected Margaret Thatcher as its first woman leader;
  • Charlie Chaplin was knighted;
  • "Jaws" was one of the top-grossing films;
  • Arthur Ashe won Wimbledon and Tiger Woods was born;


  • On 1 April 1975 the Guild of Marketors was "launched";
  • In October HRH the Duke of Edinburgh accepted Honorary Membership;
  • On 1 April 1976 the first service of dedication took place at St Bride's Church.

Thirty five years after the Guild's foundation, the Marketors continue to take a long-term perspective, which means honouring the past, celebrating the present and cultivating the future.

This is an occasion for honouring five of the Founder Members of the Guild who remain members of the Marketors today. They are Past Masters: Ron Edwards, Austin Nunn, Harry Druce and Norman Boakes, and Liveryman Willie Seeman. On behalf of the Company, I send them our thanks and salutations.

Let us also celebrate the fact that we are 35 years young this week. If this was a wedding anniversary the traditional symbol would be coral and the modern symbol, jade. With or without ornamental stones, perhaps we can now say we are in our prime.

As for the future, we hope to receive our Royal Charter later this year - a milestone which recognises the coming-of-age of the Marketors - and we are starting a project to explore the direction the Company should take in changing economic and social times. (For more on the Charter see our website at the bottom of the About Us section.

I hope all of you, as today's Freemen and Liverymen of the Company, are enjoying our modern manifestation of the Livery heritage. 11 May sees our (34th) annual service at St Bride's: it is an opportunity for us to express our support for the long-term values and aims of the Company in an atmosphere of reflection, thoughtfulness and hope.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible then, at the Spring Lunch on 13 April, or at another of our events. (Details of these, together with useful information on how to get involved in the Company, FAQs on protocol etc. can be found in the Members' Directory.)

With greetings to you all for Easter and on the occasion of this special anniversary.

Venetia Howes

Other events from 1975: Gerald Ford was US President; the first live radio transmissions took place from the House of Commons; Mohammed Ali beat Joe Frazier - the "Thrilla in Manila"; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married for the second time; Franco's 36 year rule in Spain came to an end; North Sea oil began to flow; the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into effect.

Number One hits included: the Bay City Rollers with "Bye Bye Baby"; Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man"; 10CC's "I'm Not in Love"; Rod Stewart's "Sailing"; Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". A vintage musical year!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Do you loathe Lothbury?

This is our Blue Badge Guide, Kym Dewey, outside the Founders' Hall on our City Walk yesterday, Saturday 27th March. She told us of a 16th century writer called John Stow, who conducted and recorded a survey of London. This is how he describes the Founders at work (right next to the present Bank of England site):

"First the street of Lothberie, Lathberie or Loadberie (for by all these names haue I read it) tooke the name (as it seemeth) of Berie or Court of olde time there kept, but by whom is growne out of memorie. This street is possessed for the most part by Founders, that cast Candlestickes, Chafingdishes, Spice mortars, and such like Copper or Laton workes, and do afterwarde turne them with the foot & not with the wheele, to make them smooth and bright with turning and scrating (as some do tearme it) making a loathsome noice to the by-passers, that haue not been vsed to the like, and therefore by them disdainedly called Lothberie. "

The rest of the survey covers all the individual City wards, as well as the walls, rivers, bridges, gates, families, pastimes and sports, and charitable giving (thousands of people receiving food, drink, clothing and money). You can read the whole document online at

What a difference a day makes!

Compared with its weekday bustle, the City is deserted on a Saturday, but for a few window cleaners, scaffolding erecters and.... a party of Marketors with their Blue Badge Guide, Kym Dewey, seen here walking past (probably) the oldest church in London, St Bartholomew the Great. It was so quiet we could stand in the middle of most roads and even the ducks could saunter with impunity past the intimidating faces of the Goldsmiths' leopards.

I had never seen the Roman amphitheatre under the Guildhall Art Gallery before - I love the way that as you walk up the entrance "passageway" the crowd cheers your arrival in the arena. And the wooden drainage channels look decades old rather than two millennia. (Now I know why the navy used oak. And did you see "Time Team" last night on a huge related archaeological dig in Gresham Street, with its water pumps? It was a great day for history buffs.)

Kym explained the origin of the word "role" for a part in a play, and of the word "float" in the Lord Mayor's procession - if you don't know, ask someone who was on the walk. She showed us the monument to the two men who collected and published Shakespeare's first folio of collected works, and explained why Barts Hospital is where it is. She took us to the most poignant Memorial of Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park (adults and children who died saving other people's lives) originally established by the artist G F Watts, recommissioned in 2009 after many years' dormancy.

A big thank you to Jean-Francois Dor for organising the walk and to Dan Doherty for finding us the Eastside Inn at Smithfield which was willing to open on a Saturday lunch time for us and lived up to Marketors' standards of excellence and value.

If you are interested in learning your way around the City I recommend buying a jigsaw puzzle of a street map of London. You can order them with any postcode as the central piece of the jigsaw, which extends roughly 2 miles North-South and 3 miles East-West. Various versions of modern and ancient maps and a satellite view are available. I have recently bought one with Mansion House at the centre. Just Google "jigsaw puzzle maps" and you will find several suppliers. I bought mine from Firebox for £19.99 + p&p.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

18th March Lord Mayor's message to the Livery

This is the current Lord Mayor, Nick Anstee. The Lord Mayor addresses the Livery Masters shortly after he is installed in November, and again at the dinner that he gives for them - this year in March. (Possibly at other times too, but I haven't discovered that yet.) This Lord Mayor has made it clear that he would like the content of his speeches relayed to the wider Livery, so here goes.

You can find his first speech (from 19th November 2009) together with other information about the job of the Lord Mayor and of business in the City, on his website. Click here.

His speech from Thursday 18th March will probably be on the same website shortly, but here's a preview.

The Lord Mayor reported on his overseas visits, where he is an ambassador for "UK Inc." and in particular for the financial services sector. He spoke of the damage caused to the City's reputation by negative press comment and political jockeying. But he also spoke of the underlying strength of the City, through its expertise across a wide range of professional services and because London is (holistically) such a good place in which to live and do business.

He asked the Masters to convey to their Liverymen the important role we can all play as ambassadors for the City, which we should be promoting at every opportunity. A review of the media coverage achieved by the Lord Mayor in recent months can be seen by clicking on the link below.

18th March 2010 Mansion House in full fig

This is the Egyptian Hall at the Mansion House - scene of the Marketors' banquet with the Lord Mayor on July 27th, but also of the Lord Mayor's dinner for all the Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff of the Livery Companies last Thursday evening. The Honourable Artillery Company provided a Guard of Honour of Pikemen and Musketeers and an orchestra, who played throughout.

A Master is usually accompanied by their Clerk to Livery events (very helpful for introductions and avoiding mistakes) but on this occasion we were invited with our spouses. My husband sat next to the Mistress Farmer and was delighted to discover that they knew several people in common, Roger having worked in farming for many years. I sat between two Common Councilmen, who explained to me what their roles entailed: they are like councillors of any other local authority, but with a very different constituency of residents, both individuals and companies. I learned that there is a large archaeological site under Billingsgate market waiting to be excavated - a set of Roman baths.

The Lord Mayor took the opportunity of giving a strong message to be disseminated to the Livery - see the next posting for details.

19th March - Pageantry at St Paul's

Hot on the heels of the Lord Mayor's dinner for the Livery Companies (wish we'd stayed in London overnight) comes the annual service at St Paul's Cathedral, when all the Companies and Guilds come together in a colourful parade of gowns and jewels. The service first took place in 1943 , to help lift the spirits of the City following the Blitz in World War ll. It's open to all members of the Company to attend and the Marketors always fields a team of at least a dozen people.

The service starts with a procession of the great and the good. You always know when the civic party is coming up the aisle because they are preceded by the City Marshal - the dashing Colonel Billy King-Harman - whose spurs jingle the accompaniment to his firm, marching step.

It's one of the occasions when the Masters' Ladies get the best position. My husband was seated among their hats and elegant outfits right under the dome, in a wonderful spot from which to see the speakers and hear the choir. Down the nave, where the rest of us were sitting, they had to compete with the clatter and (rather good) smells permeating up from the crypt restaurant through the floor gratings.

But we had no trouble hearing the fantastic organ, the fanfare trumpeters of the Band of the Blues and Royals, and the Bishop of Norwich urging us to develop our sense of patience. We sang the hymns (and especially the National Anthem) with gusto and emerged, gowns a-flutter in the freshening wind, to the stares of tourists outside.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

12th March Security Professionals speed to their Charter

The Security Professionals, one of the newest Livery Companies, were presented with their Charter by the Lord Mayor at Mansion House last Friday. They have gone from being a Guild to their Royal Charter in ten and a half years - a record. They were supported at their reception by 50 other Livery Masters, all of whose Companies were named by the Master, Stephen Parsons, in his speech of thanks to the Lord Mayor.
One of their most interesting charitable awards is the Sheriffs' Award, for outstanding courage or innovative thinking in protecting people, property or liberty. (It struck a bell because Shell once hosted the award ceremony.) Liveryman Trevor Vaughan chairs the committee that chooses the winners - he is always pleased to receive nominations and I have his contact details.

Friday, 12 March 2010

11th March 2010 Breakfast with (relatively) new Freemen

A lovely "people" morning!

Met about 20 newer members of the Company this morning and gave them an insight into some Livery traditions and the opportunities to get involved through our various committees. Many are "livery virgins" so it helps to have opportunities to learn a bit and experience a bit at the same time. Much helped by the presence of committee chairmen Diane Morris, Peter Rees, David Hanger, Michael Bedingfield, John Freeman who all oozed enthusiasm.

A successful combined event between our Fellowship and Events committees, well-organised and hosted by Alan Arnold and Rebecca Hill. And we discovered a great private room perfect for this sort of occasion at Corney & Barrow, Paternoster Square. But shhh, don't tell too many people or they'll all go there!

Thursday 11th March 2010 Bits and pieces

To the Guildhall Art Gallery (this begins to feel a little Pepysian) for a reception to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Loriners Company, with a display of their treasures, in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal, with associated charities, schools, regiment, cadets and others. Loriners make and sell bits, bridles, spurs, stirrups, saddle trees and other metal parts of a horse's harness.
A wonderful show of these items, including a set of gold stirrups for the postillion riders on the State Coach, presented to HM the Queen for her Golden Jubilee. The trade, though small, survives as a specialist craft with support from the Loriners. They also promoted the introduction of a "Bits and bitting" qualification (with badge) for the Pony Club, to encourage young riders to take an interest in the safe and correct choice of bits and their usage.
About 80 Livery Masters there, so a good opportunity to meet more members of the "class of 2010".

Customs from other companies

I am noticing different customs in different companies. For example at the Tax Advisers' dinner they had a grace, spoken by their chaplain in Latin, which mentions that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because of a tax census!

The Master thanked the head chef by "taking wine" (i.e. a personal toast) with her at the end of dinner.

The commanding officer of their affiliated Royal Naval ship becomes a Companion of the Company - a nice phrase.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tuesday 9th March Plastered with the Tax Advisers

The Tax Advisers held their Budget Banquet last night in Plaisterers' Hall. As you would expect, the plaster work is elaborate and painted in wonderful pinks, greens, gold and cream. Here's a link to pictures of the hall interiors

Their craft display included two copper-bottomed omelette pans, won in the recent Pancake Day races. Of course our own Simon Campbell-Davies won the Liveryman's class that day, but we don't have an obvious place to put our own pan-trophy.

The President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation explained how it was a profession that had wide access gates, with people coming into it from all sorts of previous educational and career routes. Many parallels with the Marketors. The Commissioner of the City of London Police, Mike Bowron, spoke with great enthusiasm and pride of his 30 years in the service, including the fact that the last Class A murder in the City was one of Jack the Ripper's !

I was seated next to Lord Howe of Aberavon (Geoffrey Howe as was) who is an Honorary Liveryman. Having always been taught never to discuss sex, religion or politics at dinner, I wondered whether it was in order to discuss politics with a former politician - we cheerfully agreed that it was!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

8th March 2010

The start of a busy week, with four evenings out. Last night the Senior Warden, Jim Surguy, and I were invited to take part in the Modern Livery Companies' spring dinner. The modern companies comprise all those created since 1926, starting with the Master Mariners and coming right up to date with the Guilds of PR Consultants and Educators. The common factor is that most members of these companies are practitioners of their respective trade or profession, which are themselves economically current.

We can learn from other companies and last night I was impressed by the Master Information Technologist, Charles Hughes, who told us that his company has provided several million pounds' worth of advice (at market rates) pro bono to charities and other organisations in recent years. Our Outreach activities grow steadily, but that's quite a target for us to aim at.

The Chartered Accountants were the host company last night (our turn comes in 2012) and their Master, Graham Ward, had invited Alderman Fiona Woolf as the guest speaker. She is standing for election as the Aldermanic Sheriff in June and has a glittering CV as a senior lawyer in the international privatisation of utilities - a skill which the City has successfully marketed to other countries. She said that all the modern livery professions present last night contributed in one way or another to such multi-disciplinary ventures and her key message was, "The City is so much more than financial services". (Indeed - see the post about the Financial Services Group on 26th Feb.)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Music for the Marketors

If you were at the Installation Dinner you will have heard the adults from my local church choir singing a short Grace by Andrew Parnell after dinner. I was delighted the other day to hear from the Master Chartered Surveyor, who was a Company guest, that he liked it so much that he is having it sung at one of his own formal events. Maybe we are starting a new City tradition!

One of the privileges of being Master, is that you are allowed to suggest music for the annual service of rededication (Tuesday 11th May, St Bride's, Fleet Street). So I have had huge fun trying to balance my favourites with what I hope the members of the Company will enjoy.

So for the cognoscenti among you, and with thanks to Archdeacon David Meara for his agreement and support, the theme will be "Hope" and the music will include:
"I sat down under his shadow" by Bairstow
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth" by Bainton
The Lord's Prayer by Durufle
"The Lord bless you and keep you" by Rutter.

And if you want to know the choice of hymns (and they are a cracking good sing) you'll just have to come along!

Tuesday 2nd March

Up at 5 a.m. to be at Mansion House for breakfast by 7.45 with the Lord Mayor, Sir Nicholas Kenyon (MD of the Barbican), our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, several other livery companies and guests, totalling about 40. The purpose was for the Barbican team to brief us on a new initiative based on creative learning and to seek our financial support. Interestingly, attendance at arts events across the country is up since the start of the economic crisis ("Man shall not live by bread alone"). We shall put that on the agenda for the next meeting of the Marketors' Trust.