Saturday, 20 March 2010

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.

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