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Guild News

Annual Banquet - Guildhall

11 December 2017

The Banquet is the highlight of the Guild's year and we were privileged that The Rt Worshipful The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Alderman Sir David Wootton, Alderman and Sheriff Timothy Hailes and Sheriff Neil Redcliffe were able to join us as our Guests of Honour. Sir David is our Immediate Past Master and both Sheriffs sit on the Guild's Court so it was very much the "home team". Over 400 Guild members and guests from all over the world enjoyed an evening of ceremony, pageanty, colour and music (which culminated in the Post Horn Galop and a rousing rendition of Land of Hope and Glory with everyone singing along). Let's do it all again next year - Monday 10th December 2018! Photos of the event can be found here.

Advent Holiday in Budapest

1 December 2017

The Master took a group of 22 to Budapest to enjoy this most lovely city. Members enjoyed 5 nights in the stunning 5 star Boscolo hotel, a perfect base for exploring the Advent markets and the main sights of the city. We were lucky with the weather - mostly crisp with sunshine, and the one snowy day didn't stop our valiant members! We had a range of excursions which took us to the main sights, including the stunning Mattias Church, the Parliament building and the magnificent Opera House where we were treated to a glass of bubbly and a private performance by 2 soloists on the grand staircase. The trip ended with a private dinner cruise on the Danube, where we were entertained by a gypsy jazz quartet while we admired the beautifully illuminated buildings on each side of the river.

Wine Tasting - Tallow Chandlers' Hall

15 November 2017

The Master was delighted to welcome back Mr Harry Vernau of the Red Bottle Company to share his expertise with a Christmas and New Year selection of wines that are only available through the Company in the UK. Members and their guests compared and contrasted a range of wines and afterwards enjoyed a hearty variety of snacks with even more wine as everyone enjoyed a very social and fun evening. Photos of the event can be found here.

Judith Westall appointed Assistant Clerk

15 November 2017

At the Court meeting on Wednesday 11th November 2017 The Master was delighted to appoint Mrs Judith Westall to the role of Assistant Clerk. Judith has worked in the Guild office for 15 years and her love of the Guild is well known. Her appointment is well-deserved and we all look forward to having Judith in the Guild family for many years to come.

Lord Mayor's Show and Lunch at Guildhall

11 November 2017

Some 60 members took up their seats in the stands opposite St Paul's on a, thankfully, dry day to enjoy the spectacular Lord Mayor's show. The Master was, as usual, part of the parade, sharing a landau from the Royal Mews with other city organisations and accompanied by the Guild's Soldier of the Year Lance Corporal Sven Harris of 253 Provost CoY RMP. After cheering and waving Guild flags as the three mile procession passed, some 30 of the group went onto Guildhall to enjoy a fabulous 4-course lunch in the Members' Private Dining Room. Photos of the event can be found here.

Silent Ceremony and The Presentation of Addresses

10 November 2017

This afternoon the Master Mr Peter Allcard, Mrs Pearl Allcard, the Senior Warden Mr John Barber DL and the Clerk attended the Silent Ceremony in Guildhall to welcome in the New Lord Mayor, Alderman Charles Bowman, as he assumed office. Shortly afterwards the Guild's delegation was joined by the Immediate Past Master Alderman Sir David Wootton and the Beadle in the Guildhall Art Gallery for the Presentation of Addresses. During this delightful ceremony the Master and the Guild's delegation presented an engraved silver photograph frame each to Guild Court Assistant, Alderman and Sheriff Timothy Hailes and our Junior Warden Sheriff Neil Redcliffe. The Guild was privileged to make two presentations out of a total of only fifteen made.

Clerk of the Guild Admitted as a Freeman of the City of London

1 November 2017

The Master and members of the Court, along with her family and friends were delighted to attend Christine Cook's Freedom Ceremony on 1st November. The ceremony was conducted by the Clerk to the Chamberlain's Court, Murray Craig, who, with his usual good humour, entertained the guests with tales of Christine's native North East as well as the history of the City of London and notable Freemen. Afterwards we gathered in the Alderman's dining room for a glass or two of refreshment and a lovely afternoon tea. Photos of the event can be found here.

DM Thomas Foundation Ball

28 October 2017

Once more the Guild was hugely grateful to the DM Thomas Foundation for allowing Guild members to attend this spectacular evening of champagne, dinner accompanied by fine wines, cabaret and dancing at a discounted price. The Grand Ballroom of the London Hilton in Park Lane was the scene of this glittering affair which members enjoyed immensely, dancing the night away while contributing to this worthy cause through the tickets and the charity auction.

Supper & Show - The Magic Circle

24 October 2017

Members gathered at the Wesley for a pre-show supper before walking to the very discreet entrance to the Magic Circle. We knew the "magic word" so were allowed in to the Magic society's intimate HQ complete with with theatre, library, museum and club room. The evening started with four different magicians entertaining us with close up parlour magic, everything from coin and card tricks to mind reading. After being enthralled and baffled we made our way to the intimate theatre for the main show. We were once again in thrall of the magicians' skill and sleight of hand and simply couldn't see "how it was done". Two of our members were invited onto the stage, Court Assistant Councillor Lisa Rutter and Mr Hoefling, and became part of the act. They left as bemused as when they went up, none the wiser as to what had happened! A terrific evening that was enjoyed by all, and a deliberately vague report - you will have to come next time and see it for yourself! Photos of the event can be found here.

Reception & Lunch - Carlton Club

11 October 2017

The Master held his "Master's Lunch" in the opulent surroundings of the Carlton Club in St James's, which describes itself as the "oldest and most important of Conservative clubs". Our privileged access began with a sparkling reception in the Thatcher Drawing Room and was followed by a delicious three-course lunch with wine in the Wellington Room. The 90 members and guests then enjoyed a humorous and informative short talk by Eleanor Laing MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons who gave a fascinating insight into the workings of Parliament. Photos of the event can be found here.

Soldier of the Year 2017

11 October 2017

On Wednesday 10th October the Master, Mr Peter Allcard, visited the Guild's affiliated Reserve Army Unit, 253 Company RMP. During the visit the Master presented the Guild's 'Soldier of the Year' award to Lance Corporal Sven Harris for his outstanding service and achievements during the year. We look forward to seeing LCpl Harris at the Lord Mayors show and the Guild's Banquet where he will bear the Guild's banner.

Visit & Lunch - RNLI Selsey

4 October 2017

The Guild was privileged to visit RNLI Selsey to see the Master unveil a plaque in support of a stained-glass window commemorating the late Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Buchanan, KBE, a former Past Master of the Guild and former President of RNLI Selsey. The window was designed by local artist Mrs Chris Brown, who attended the unveiling, along with Lady Audrey Buchanan. The Guild was delighted to help fund the window in memory of Sir Peter and members and their guests were able to view it from the balcony. After the ceremony there were guided tours of the new boathouse and state of the art all-weather Shannon lifeboat. We were treated to a launch of the craft and a demonstration of its manoeuvrability...unfortunately the tide turned and the boat was unable to recover! The crew dropped anchor and while they waited for the tide to turn we enjoyed a hearty lunch of local Selsey crab and fish and chips at the Lifeboat Inn before returning to the boathouse to welcome them back in. Photos of the event can be found here.

Reception & Dinner - Innholders' Hall

27 September 2017

The Master's third black tie dinner was held in the unique surroundings of the Innholders' Hall, known as the "home of hospitality since 1473". The evening began with a sparkling reception in the Old Court Room and was followed by a sumptuous three course dinner with wine prepared under the direction of the Innholders' Michelin starred chef, Herbert Berger. Many members have kindly said it was the best dinner they had been to with the Guild! Dinner was followed by the Toasts and the Loving Cup Ceremony. The Master was delighted to welcome Guild member and Chelsea Pensioner Michael Allen as his guest. Michael was resplendent in his scarlet uniform and delighted the guests with his stories. The Master thanked him and presented him with a Halcyon Days Box, before wishing everyone a safe journey home. Photos of the event can be found here.

Visit & Supper - College of Arms

13 September 2017

Twenty members and guests assembled for our regular visit to the College of Arms where we were treated to a fascinating presentation by Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms Ordinary, John Petrie, who gave us a brief history of the college and the extent of the Heralds' work. He showed us some wonderful examples of Heraldry and various Coats of Arms ranging from Lord Nelson to Elton John! We were then treated to a tasty buffet and a very welcome glass of wine. Photos of the event can be found here.

Derbyshire Weekend 31 August - 03 September

31 August 2017

A party of 28 members and their guests met in Bakewell for a long weekend in Derbyshire. The evening began with an informal dinner at the Rutland Hotel where the Master was delighted to welcome the holidaymakers to his part of the world. Friday commenced with a tour of Chatsworth House, surely one of the most beautifully maintained stately homes in Britain. A good lunch in the converted stables was followed by an opportunity to visit the gardens or the Country fair which was in full operation during our stay. The day was completed by dinner in Sheffield at The Cutlers Hall where we were afforded a full tour and some wonderful hospitality by The Master Cutler of Hallamshire. The Master was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to point out the uniquely close proximity that Sheffield has with Derbyshire and the Peak district, and to illustrate why Sheffield is known, quite rightly, as the greenest City in England. The following day we continued to admire the lovely countryside around the Hope Valley as we took a leisurely coach drive to Castleton, famous for the Blue John caves and caverns. Some twenty brave souls negotiated the 105 stone steps into the Speedwell cavern before embarking upon a boat ride along an underground passage, as far as the spectacular underground 'bottomless' lake. This was followed by a visit to Peak cavern where we were introduced to the art of rope making before our guide took us through the huge and spectacular cavern, followed by a short and very low tunnel to another enormous cave. During high water the whole system is prone to flooding, with water gushing in and out through a small hole in the side and thereby creating a rather 'familiar' sound which gives the cave system the better known colloquial name of "The Devil's... " ...well you can work it out! A short coach ride took us back along the valley to Hathersage, a small town famous for being the final resting place of Little John, and where his grave gives some authenticity to his true existence. The afternoon was spent in Haddon Hall, judged to be the finest example of an Elizabethan Manor House in the Country. Our final dinner was taken at nearby Hassop Hall, a lovely manor house well known for its culinary expertise, and a meal which was enjoyed by everyone. Our final excursion was to Hardwick Hall on Sunday morning. The home of Bess of Hardwick, this extraordinarily beautiful house was really at the seat of local history with its eponymous owner building an enormous fortune by a run of marriages to ever wealthier husbands. A final lunch was enjoyed at Hardwick Inn, very close to the house, after which everyone said their good-byes and departed for home. Photos of the event can be found here.

City Walk and Supper - 18 & 19 July

18 July 2017

The ever-popular City Walk was held over 2 evenings to accommodate the number of members who wished to attend. This year we had a most enjoyable tour of a number of the northern-most Livery Halls, led as usual by Peter Tompkins whose knowledge and infectious enthusiasm knew no bounds. The evening concluded with a relaxed and informal pub dinner at Williamson's Tavern off Bow Lane, said to hold the oldest excise licence in the City, and originally a residence for the Lord Mayors of London. Before supper the Master presented Peter with a cheque for £800 which those attending the event had kindly donated to the Lord Mayor's Appeal Fund. We look forward to next year's walk which Peter has kindly agreed to lead, the theme of which will be "the Modern City". Photos of the event can be found here.

Supper and Show - Guildhall School of Music and Drama Gala Evening

10 July 2017

One of the most enjoyable events of our year is the annual visit to the GSMD at The Barbican Centre. Members and guests enjoyed a sparkling reception and were entertained by a small ensemble of musicians in the second biggest conservatory in London, home to exotic fish and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. This delightful start to the evening was followed by an enjoyable dinner before we all moved to the theatre to witness George Gershwin's musical of "Crazy For You" performed by a number of extraordinarily talented young actors. Altogether, a wonderful evening. Photos of the event can be found here.

Visit to Apsley House & Supper in the Caledonian Club

5 July 2017

This event saw our first visit to Apsley House, the seat of the Dukes of Wellington the descendants of whom still occupy the building. This lovely place with its unique collection of art and silver is often referred to as No. 1, London as it was once the first building to be encountered on entering the City from the North West, and remains a prominent landmark overlooking Hyde Park Corner. Members and their guests were treated to a private tour of the Duke's treasures and the magnificent art collection. After the tour we strolled to a three course dinner with wine at The Caledonian Club which was much enjoyed by our members. The event was so popular we hope to repeat it in future years. It was an exceptionally warm evening - a number of ladies were grateful for the loan of fans from the Clerk! Photos of the event can be found here.

Reception and Dinner - Skinners' Hall

28 June 2017

The Master's second black tie dinner was held in the glorious surroundings of Skinners' Hall where members enjoyed a sparking reception in the Italianate Roof Garden - we were lucky with the weather as it had been forecast to rain! A lovely three course dinner with wine was served in the Great Hall, which dates back to 1670. The Hall is oak panelled and includes a Minstrels' Gallery, an exquisite silver display case, coats of arms and large panels painted by Sir Frank William Brangwyn - a truly magnificent setting. Dinner was followed by the Toasts and the Loving Cup Ceremony. The Master was delighted to welcome Mr James Bromiley-Davis, Master of the Guild of Young Freemen as his guest. James had clearly done his research and gave an excellent, and enlightening, speech which we hope will help us to develop and strengthen our ties with this organisation. The Master thanked him and presented him with a Halcyon Days Box, before wishing everyone a safe journey home. Photos of the event can be found here.

Summer Gala - HQS Wellington

15 June 2017

The Guild's Summer Gala could not have been more summery! More than 60 Guild members were blessed with the early evening sunshine aboard HQS Wellington (Livery Hall of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners), where a glass or two of refreshing sparkling wine was enjoyed on the Quarterdeck, whilst taking in magnificent views from St Paul's to Big Ben. We were welcomed by the Master Mariner, Captain Peter Reed and Commodore Angus Menzies, the Clerk to the Guild, who gave a fascinating talk on the history of the Ship. Afterwards members repaired for dinner to the Master Mariners Court Room; formerly the ship's engine room the Court room is now an impressive venue adorned with the Master Mariners' collection of silver and gold, set into cabinets in the wood panelling. Members enjoyed a delicious three course dinner with wine, followed by the Toasts and the Loving Cup Ceremony. The Master then introduced Captain Reed, who gave a speech full of interest and anecdotes. The Master thanked him and presented him with a Halcyon Days Box, before wishing everyone a safe journey home. Photos of the event can be found here.

Lunch and Show - Brick Lane Music Hall

31 May 2017

More than 70 members enjoyed an afternoon at the fabulous Brick Lane Music Hall, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Surrounded by bunting, fairy lights and a shrine to Danny La Rue we enjoyed a 3 course lunch with wine followed by a fantastic and varied show admirably performed by the cast. There was a traditional music hall montage, complete with Pearly Kings and Queens, a medley of songs performed in tribute to some of the artists who have supported Brick Lane Music Hall during its 25 year history, an homage to James Bond 007, an hilarious comedy sketch performed by Vincent Hayes MBE and Paul James and a 12 days of Christmas finale show-casing each member of the cast. We heard about the excellent outreach work that Vincent and his team do with the elderly and local community in the Borough of Newham. Everyone left with smiles on their faces, especially the Masters' Lady, Pearl Allcard, who won a raffle prize. We will be back! Photos of the event can be found here.

Visit and Lunch - Royal College of Surgeons

17 May 2017

With the Royal College of Surgeons about to undergo a major redevelopment of its London home, the Master, Peter Allcard, managed to secure a last opportunity to lunch in the ornate surroundings of the Council Room in an atmosphere rich in surgical history and tradition. Around 60 members had the opportunity to peruse the world famous Hunterian Museum, followed by a sparkling wine reception and lunch. The Master introduced Mr Stephen Cannon MBE, Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who gave an interesting and entertaining talk on the history of the Royal College and the Museum. The Master thanked Mr Cannon and wished all members a safe journey home. Photos of the event can be found here.

Appointment of New Clerk

2 May 2017

The Court of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Clerk, Mrs Christine Cook. Mrs Cook held senior management positions in the civil service, including the Foreign Office, Privy Council Office (where she remains Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council), Treasury Solicitor's and the Home Office. She has also had a long prior career in retail management. Mrs Cook is looking forward to meeting as many members as possible over the coming months and can be contacted at clerk@guild-freemen-london.co.uk.

The Court wishes Mrs Cook a long and happy period of service with the Guild.


The Guild Office moves to the City of London

2 May 2017

The Guild Office has moved from Kingston and has taken up two rooms at 65 London Wall, a newly refurbished serviced office building with many period features on the south side of London Wall, opposite Finsbury Circus. The new address is Guild of Freemen, Rooms 78/79, 65 London Wall, London EC2M 5TU. The new telephone number is 0207 239 9016. Visitors are welcome but please call the Clerk in advance to be sure that the office will be attended.

Annual Service - St Lawrence Jewry

27 April 2017

The Guild's Annual Service was held in the Church of St Lawrence Jewry. It was conducted by the Guild Vicar, Reverend Canon David Parrott, and was assisted by the Guild's Honorary Chaplain, the very reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's, who delivered the sermon. The lessons were read by The Renter Warden, Mrs Elizabeth Thornborough, and the Master Peter Allcard. The Headmaster of King Edward's School Witley Mr John Attwater gave his permission for the Choir to sing throughout the service. They were conducted by Stasio Sliwka, Director of Music, and the organ was played by Catherine Ennis, organist at St Lawrence Jewry.

Reception & Dinner in Cutler's Hall

27 April 2017

After the Annual Service a reception and dinner was held in Cutler's Hall. During the reception the Master Peter Allcard thanked the choir for their contribution to the service and presented a cheque to the Headmaster of King Edwards School Witley, Mr John Attwater. This was followed by dinner (superbly catered by The Cook and the Butler). Mr Richard Regan OBE, Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, was the guest of honour. Later the Master thanked all those involved in planning the Annual Service and arranging the dinner, introduced Christine Cook the new Clerk of the Guild and then wished everyone a safe journey home.

The Guild welcomes new members - Tallow Chandlers' Hall

12 April 2017

The Court welcomed new members of the Guild at the Joining and Welcoming Ceremony, which was held during a Court meeting. New members were formally presented to the Court and the welcome included the Ceremony of the Loving Cup. New members were then invited to sign the Roll of the Guild and receive their Warrants of Membership. After the Ceremony the Court joined new members, and their guests, for some refreshments.

Annual General Meeting and Court Supper - Tallow Chandlers' Hall

15 March 2017

The Master, Alderman Sir David Wootton opened the 107th AGM of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London at 5pm. The Directors Report and Financial Statements for the year ending 31st July 2016 were presented. Once the AGM business had been concluded the Master presented Brigadier Michael Keun with a cheque on behalf of Guild Members, thanked him for his 17 years of service to the Guild and wished him and his wife Belinda a long and happy retirement. He advised that a new Clerk would commence employment in May when the Guild Office would relocate into the City of London. The Master then presented Mr Peter Allcard with the Guild's Inventory Book and the Key to the Company Seal as symbols of high office of Master. The new Master thanked the Immediate Past Master and undertook to maintain the traditions and high standards of the Court. He then installed his Wardens. The Master presented an Illuminated Address to the Immediate Past Master and invested him with a Past Master's Badge

Reception & Dinner in Gray's Inn

3 March 2017

For his final dinner The master Sir David Wootton chose the banqueting hall of Honourable Society of Gray's Inn to celebrate his legal qualifications and career. A reception was held upstairs in the Large Pension Room before dinner in the Great hall. Grace was said by the Hon Chaplain, The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's. A five piece salon orchestra from The London Banqueting Ensemble played throughout the evening. After the toasts they performed a rousing Post Horn Galop. The guest speaker - Master of the Bench at Gray's Inn - His Honour Judge Stephen Kramer QC, gave an interesting and informative speech before the master thanked His Honour and then wished everyone a safe journey home.

Please note: the photographs that illustrate these articles are the copyright of Peter Holland, the Guild's photographer, or of the Guild (unless otherwise stated). Anyone wishing to obtain copies should contact the Guild office.

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