Friday, 16 August 2013

Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber at Hampton Court Palace Thursday 15 August

Continuing my theme of Great Brands make Britain Great a visit to one of our leading brands that dates from the 16th Century seemed an obvious choice. Thanks to Event Manager, Freeman Gill Whitelegg, who lives at nearby Twickenham, a special visit to Hampton Court Palace was arranged. We were greeted on arrival by Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing, who outlined the plan for the day.
Thomas Wolsey, King Henry V111's Lord Chancellor, built a magnificent Palace for himself with private chambers for his own use and a host of bedrooms and other spectacular rooms for Henry. After time to wander through the Palace and the spectacular gardens we enjoyed an excellent lunch in the Tiltyard Cafe.  In the afternoon we were exposed to a life of outrageous extravagance, through the good offices of Jo Neill, Interpretation Manager. The theme on this occasion was to learn about the Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber, an excellent exhibition to unlock the world of the bedroom (and closet!) with magnificently restored baroque beds on display. The picture below shows a magnificent monarch's bed with a canopy that literally hung from the stunningly painted ceiling. These bedrooms were home to King Henry VIII and subsequent Kings and Queens whose 'levees'  - preparing to receive important visitors in your bedroom - exposed the salacious gossip, secrets, intrigue and plotting of those times. The Palace has certainly been home to some of our racier English monarchs! With costumed State Apartment Warders we were taken back in time, sharing the delicious scandals of the Court as we made our way through the baroque parts of the Palace. The beautiful Royal Chapel felt like the only place where serenity and orderliness was evident - no doubt Henry VIII spent some time there seeking forgiveness for his sins! I highly recommend a visit and the exhibition remains open until September.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Luncheon to the Lord Mayor at Mansion House Thursday 25 July

At a Ceremonial Court, held at Mansion House prior to the luncheon, I was delighted to install as our Learned Clerk, John Hammond, and to confirm the Wardens for 2013, Senior Warden Michael Harrison, Middle Warden Andrew Marsden and Junior Warden David Pearson. Installed as Court Assistants were Philip Andrew, John Freeman and Jane Wharam.  I admitted and welcomed four new Liverymen: Justine Dignam, Mikki Hall and Martin Riley. It was also a great pleasure to admit as Freemen: Dr Paul Baines, Nicola Brooks, Ian Helps, Kate Holden, Richard Mayer, Alan Osborne, Rhian Pamphilon, Chris Skinner and Mark Westaby. I was also delighted to present, with the Chair of the Marketors' Trust, John Hooper CBE, the Company's Westminster Business School Award to Siros Ghaffari MSc.  All were congratulated by those present. As guests started to arrive, it was so good that St Dunstan's Combined Cadet Force had, despite the school holidays having commenced, formed a carpet guard to greet our some 250 guests. For the past six consecutive years the Company has enjoyed an evening banquet to the Lord Mayor, so this year was a bit of a change.  A luncheon is slightly different in character, as witnessed by the proliferation of hats and summer dresses that flowed into the Mansion House to be received by the Master, Wardens and the Rt Hon Lord Mayor, Alderman Roger Gifford. After a champagne reception the guests were called by the Beadle to take their places in the Egyptian Hall. Master and Wardens, the Lord Mayor, Sheriff Nigel Pullman and official guests Master Chartered Surveyor and Master Firefighter processed to their seats accompanied by organist Glen Dempsey (Music Scholar to the Chapel Royal Windsor) and Trumpeter John Hoare. The luncheon was excellent and the Hall was alive with animated conversation. While the toast to the Royal Family included the new young Prince, born that week, speeches were kept to a minimum.  As Master I spoke of the role of Marketing and the Outreach and other activities of our members.  The Lord Mayor spoke of the need for marketing the City of London better around the world and here in the UK, a role each Lord Mayor undertakes through his year of office with the several international visits he had already made. I was presented by the Lord Mayor with a copy of the book co authored by his very talented wife Clare Gifford on the Harold Samuel Collection of paintings that reside at the Mansion House. These pictures represent one of the finest group of Old Master paintings assembled in Britain over the past one hundred years.  All in all a thoroughly fascinating luncheon and a very successful event for which we thank the Lord Mayor, also presenting him with two substantial cheques for his Lord Mayor's Appeal and the Mansion House Scholarship Fund.  Many thanks are due to the Clerk (his first event) and Assistant Clerk for the splendid and flawless organisation of the luncheon.