Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers Master's Plough Monday Dinner 6th January 2014

My first activity as Master in 2014 took place in the historical Tallow Chandlers Hall on Dowgate Hill. Plough Monday is traditionally the first Monday after Epiphany or the First Monday after Twelfth Night, whatever you prefer! On this day the ceremony of the Plough took place and in early feudal times it marked the end of the Christmas holidays when men returned to their daily work or their plough.  Without going too much into the tradition, those taking part wore white as the activity was known as The White Plough or Fond Plough with villagers dressed as 'mummers' and the procession 'fond' or foolish.  The plough was dragged from door to door in the parish and 'plough money' solicited. If the householder was stingy the ground in front of his door was ploughed up!  The saying 'God speed the Plough' is an expression of good wishes for success and prosperity.

The Very Revd Colin Semper, Liveryman and Chaplain to the Feltmakers Company, gave an excellent grace through an ancient song, the refrain being sung loudly by us all after every verse ' God speed the Plough!'. Officinados of the Church's year will understand that the Company was holding the dinner a week before Plough Monday on this occasion.  The date of the dinner had been rescheduled to Monday 6th from Monday 13th as it was the preference of the Master that both Sheriffs should be present. In the event only Sheriff Adrian Waddingham was able to be present despite the change of date, as Sir Paul Judge, Aldermanic Sheriff and guest speaker for the evening, had been asked to undertake an urgent mission to Togo (next door to Ghana!) in support of an important educational initiative. Sir Paul, an Educator as well as a Past Master of the Marketors, has been instrumental in the Educators advancement to Livery, to be celebrated in February.  Adrian gave an excellent speech, the Master Feltmaker apparently having briefed him simply to speak on any subject of his choosing and for as long as he wished! 

In fact, the Sheriff gave a superbly amusing speech about actuarial matters that affect all our lives and provided some fascinating insights into life at the Old Bailey.  Baroness Wall, well known for her superb work as Fair Pay Champion, gave the response. It was delightful that Baroness Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House and a long term supporter of my work at the Industry and Parliament Trust, an Honorary Liveryman of the Feltmakers, was also present. We had much to catch up on. The Master spoke of the Feltmakers Company's pleasure at annually providing the hat for the Lord Mayor. A special lighter weight design was created for our Lord  Mayor, the Rt Hon Fiona Woolf.  Having seen the hat on the Lord Mayor's head, I can vouch for its fashionable, yet traditional, design.  It was a thoroughly pleasant and relaxing evening with just two Masters present as guests, myself and the Master Actuary.  I also had an engaging conversation with Commander Peter Laughton MBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster, a type 23 frigate affiliated to the Feltmakers. He trained at Dartmouth with Commander Catherine Jordan, Commanding Officer of our own affiliated sister ship, HMS St Albans. As a Company, we look forward to welcoming Catherine at the upcoming Installation Dinner on 23 January. Please make sure you have booked for this most important event in the Marketors calendar.

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