Saturday, 16 November 2013

Actuaries Annual Lecture Wednesday 13 November, Staple Hall

I was delighted to be a guest of The Master, Charles Cowling for the lecture and dinner. Charles and I served together on the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs Committee, Charles supporting Past Master Actuary Adrian Waddingham and me supporting Sir Paul Judge, past Master Marketor and Aldermanic Sheriff for 2013 - 2104. Staple Inn, London, has been used by actuaries since 1887 when the Institute of Actuaries was first based here. Over its history it has been as an Inn of Chancery for younger members of the legal profession and then a principal office for the Actuarial Profession, and continues to be a meeting venue for actuaries. Many actuaries around the world consider it their "home" Le Stapled Halle.The earliest reference to Staple Inn can be traced back to Norman times. In 1292 the site housed a building known as le Stapled Halle, which was probably a covered market as it means in today's French word halle.  Historic photograph of Staple Inn   
The 'Staple' derived from a duty on wool that was introduced in 1275 at the 'request of the communities of merchants' with the intention that the burden of tax should fall on the foreign buyers of wool.
It is not clear how the Society of Staple Inn, an organisation of lawyers, came into being. The evidence available suggests that it did so from 1415 when the name Staple Inn appears to have been first used by lawyers and students who formed the Grand Company and Fellows of Staple Inn. By 1586, its status was established as an 'Inn of Chancery', a medieval school providing primary training in legal practice, and a college in the 'Third University' in London, junior to the 'Inns of Court'. Staple Inn was most associated with Gray's Inn, an Inn of Court, on the opposite side of Holborn. Inside the current Hall, some early stained glass windows have features contemporary to the site's origins as a venue for merchants and to the Tudor period. Other windows commemorate early Fellows of Staple Inn, as well as Tudor and Stuart monarchs and judges. The Chartered Institute of Marketing at Moor Hall, Cookham, in delightful Berkshire, is much more modern, the CIM having celebrated slightly more than just 100 years.

I did, however, find the lecture enormously interesting, the speaker being not an Actuary but Sir Philip Craven, Chairman of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) for the Paralympics, more recently known to me when I was a Gamesmaker in 2012 and hosted Sir Philip at Eton Dorney, as well as Lord Mayor David Wootton  and our own Liveryman Theresa May, along with many lumanaries of the rowing world. Sir Philip had inspired the present Master Actuary and quips were added to the speech in regard to the actuarial skills required to run the Olympics.  How many Actuaries does it take to change a light bulb?  I still don't know as the evening concluded with a superb dinner and good conversation.

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