Sunday, 17 November 2013
Thursday 15 November Civic Dinner in the Chief Commoners Parlour
After a very busy week, on Thursday afternoon I attended my Ward Club - Cordwainers - traditional turning on of the Christmas lights in Bow Lane. I arrived with the Chief Commoner and The Lord Mayor and her husband, Nicholas, accompanied by the two Sheriffs. The Lord Mayor's Consort carried out the lighting operation successfully and rows of blue lights shone out into the gathering cloud and darkness. We collected some astonished looks from hurrying commuters as the Mayoralty party gave speeches in the street and proceeded on a tour of the area, apparently a regular and favourite shopping haunt of the Lord Mayor. With strange looks from a group of shoppers and passers by, the party wandered through delightful hidden narrow alleyways, each shop seeming to be a hairdressers or a beauty salon, also a tailors? At each stop there were refreshments I had been on my way to Guildhall for a Civic Dinner and on passing down Bow Lane had been called to pause and join the party by mine host for the evening, the Chief Commoner. Arriving eventually at the Civic Dinner I was then formally greeted in the Chief Commoner's Parlour by mine hosts The Chief Commoner, George Gillon and The City Remembrancer, Paul Double. There were only eighteen guests and it was a splendid dinner. I was the only Master present and guests included the Head of Security at the Bank of England, the Chief Executive of the Prince's Regeneration Trust, the Chairman of the London Commitee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Mayor of the London Borough of Islington and the Commander of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. The Chief Commoner had placed on the dining table a carved wooden box that contained the scroll of Florence Nightingale's Hon Freedom of the City of London. According to the Chief Commoner she was granted the Freedom in 1908 and by this time she was nearly 90 years of age and her memory and eyesight were fast failing her. Before her death on 13th August 1910 Florence had the satisfaction of knowing that her work had been accomplished. Guildhall is managed by the City Remembrancer’s Office which was established during the reign of Elizabeth I. All applications for using Guildhall need to be approved by the Chief Commoner on a recommendation by the City Remembrancer. It was a delightful evening in most interesting company.