Thursday, 7 March 2013
Clothworkers Company, Clothworkers' Hall Wednesday 6th March
Tonight, in Company with the Assistant Clerk, it was a return to the magnificent Clothworkers’ Hall where the Marketors had held our Bowden Charter Dinner in October. This time we were attending as guests at the Company’s Annual Masters and Clerks Dinner. At his invitation, Doreen and I joined the Master, Robin Booth, for pre-dinner drinks in his private study.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the original purpose of The Clothworkers’ Company was to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing within the City of London. The Company’s most famous Master was Samuel Pepys, who had finished writing his diary before he took office in 1677. So although there is no record of his year, it mentions events which must have affected the Company and annually there is a Pepys dinner.
Few of its present members are involved in the textile industry in any direct way today, but the Company continues to support textiles, principally through educational grants, fostering the development of technical textiles and colour science, and support for the nation's textile heritage.
The assets of the Company, one of the Great Twelve, are considerable and based on property and investments. These are used to support The Clothworkers' Foundation, started in 1977, a registered charity and the Company is one of the largest grant-makers in Britain, having made grants to date that total£100million.
Do you dine with Alderman or Lady Cooper? A question to perplex the uninitiated in the ways of the Clothworkers. Alderman Cooper collapsed with apoplexy in 1664 and was revived with brandy but subsequently died. Lady Cooper was angry with the Clerk as she felt he would have survived had he been given gin instead. To this day at Company dinners all guests are offered a choice of brandy or gin. I chose the Lady's tipple and recommendation and sat back to thoroughly enjoy the musical entertainment from three highly talented Guildhall students.
The guest speaker was Colonel Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, Chairman of the City of London Reserve Forces and Cadets Association. He spoke forcefully about the need to show support for all the TA serving in war zones and urged everyone to also support the Cadets, a number having formed a splendid carpet guard this evening. A commentator on Religious matters for Sky News, as well as a prolific writer, Colonel Bruce had also been involved in advising on TV programmes, including Downton Abbey and The Young Victoria. The evening ended with a stirrup cup and friendly farewells to a Livery Company that simply oozed hospitality and good fellowship.