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May - June 2023

25th May

Apothecaries Hall was the wonderful venue for the day’s events – this being the oldest extant Livery Hall in the City. Firstly, Alan Cook presided over his last Court meeting as Master. This was followed by the installation ceremony. From 6.00pm the Court room was jam-packed and the Clerk’s rehearsals paid off handsomely – all going smoothly including the presentation of the Apollo Mace. The Mace bearers, James Drabble and Robert Wilde-Evans were splendidly attired in subfusc. The Clerk had appointed an experienced Beadle for the day, Nick Gibert, who did an excellent job. The goldsmith who created the Mace, Dr Kevin Coates, read an ancient blessing to Apollo from Ovid and was very taken with the fact that Apollo was prominently depicted in one of the splendid stained-glass windows in the Court Room.

Amazingly, the weather was kind enough to allow us to have pre-dinner drinks in the Courtyard with the Beadle appearing dramatically on the steps every so often to make a 15-minute, 10-minute and 5-minute call. Our wonderful Chaplain, Roger Hall, paid tribute to Lord Brooke, one of our founders who had recently passed away. The Chaplain’s Grace elegantly incorporated reference to the date being the feast day of St Bede, whose tomb is in Durham Cathedral. The dinner went well and included an interlude with music provided by violinist Mitzi Clarke and my brother Kenneth on clarinet. All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and it proved a very happy occasion and a splendid start to my year as Master.

Alan Cook, Roy Sully, Graham Barker, Deborah Charles, John Benjamin, the newly installed team.

26th May

The following day, the next event I attended as Master was a very jolly lunch, given by the World Traders at the Information Technologists’ Hall – one of the smaller livery halls tucked away behind St Bartholomew the Great. The Hall was largely acquired through the generosity of the great Dame Stephanie Shirley. It acts as the home for 4 or 5 livery companies including the Scriveners. The lunch was for Masters and Clerks of the livery companies ranking 100 and above – the Centurions (rather

than the Centennials). It was marvellous to have the Nurses represented there as they have just achieved Livery status becoming the 111th Company. We were all made very welcome by the Master of the World Traders, Michael Shapiro.

30th May

In the morning I met Michael Tivey from the NT for coffee at Cliveden. Michael is kindly providing one of the lots in the upcoming Arts Scholars charity auction – a private tour of Cliveden.

In the evening I donned the Master’s badge and white tie and, accompanied by my Consort Joanna, we attended the Actuaries Banquet in the Mansion House. This was Keith Jones’ last major event as Master Actuary as he is coming to the end of his very successful year. The evening was very splendid I was delighted to have the company of the Lady Mayoress, Felicity Lyons; I had got to know Felicity when serving on last year’s Sheriffs’ Ball Committee. I was fascinated to learn about one of the charities the Lady Mayoress is supporting which is called Music Masters.

Joanna Barker, Graham Barker, Keith Jones, Sandra Jones at the Mansion House

5th June

Joanna attended an enjoyable champagne and tea event for Consorts hosted by the Lady Mayoress at Guildhall.

6th June

A reception to launch the Arts Scholars Charity auction at the National Theatre. The Deck is high up in the building with spectacular views over the City. Over 100 people attended this event which included the screening of a special video film, recorded at the British Museum, which explains the charitable causes for which the auction is raising money. The two charities are the Arts Scholars Student Scholarship initiatives and the Portable Antiquities Scheme run by the BM. Our charity auctioneer, Hugh Edmeades was in in dashing form and presented a thank you gift to Lizzie Cuthbertson who had voluntarily put the video together. My brother Kenny assembled a rip-roaring jazz band for our entertainment and played a stunning version of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and ‘Sing Sing Sing’ which was made famous by Benny Goodman. It was a pleasure to see Richard Chartres and the Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris, joining us during the evening.

Kenny Martyn hits the high notes at National Theatre

reception to launch the charity auction

7th June

The highly committed and enthusiastic auction committee met at The Oriental Club. The meeting was followed by a congenial lunch in the Light Cavalry Bar. The number of lots that have been generously provided by our membership is astonishing – the auction at Christie’s on 13th September is going to be a great evening!

8th June To Drapers Hall for a reception hosted by the City Livery Committee. It was an excellent chance to meet a range of Masters and Clerks and to hear about the mission of the City Livery Committee; this is to provide links between the Guildhall, the Mansion House and the Livery Companies.

8th June

To Drapers Hall for a reception hosted by the City Livery Committee. It was an excellent chance to meet a range of Masters and Clerks and to hear about the mission of the City Livery Committee; this is to provide links between the Guildhall, the Mansion House and the Livery Companies.

12th June

The British Museum was the venue for the launch of the publication of my book on Roman history written jointly with fellow Arts Scholar, Sam Moorhead. This was not an Arts Scholars Event, as such, but many Arts Scholars attended. The book is entitled “The Rebel Emperors of Britannia, Carausius and Allectus” and is published by Spink. If you have not yet got your own copy of this excellent tome, you’ll have to come up with a very good excuse next time you see the Master!

14th June

Attended a Concert by the Bands of the Royal Yeomanry (Inns of Court and City Yeomanry) and the Honourable Artillery Company. Of all the places in the Guildhall Yard, the band was, of course, seated in the sunniest corner so they must have been a little warm in their splendid red woollen tunics. It was, however, an excellent and exhilarating concert.

16th June

To Glasgow for the Livery weekend. Joanna and I joined over 100 other Masters of Livery Companies and their Consorts, plus the Lord Mayor and City Sheriffs who had all travelled north of the border to the place that was City of Culture in 1990. The first evening we had a buffet supper and reception in Trades Hall, a building dating from 1794 and designed by Robert Adam. The Trades Association was originally established in 1605 to help protect and support the Crafts people of the City. The event at Trades Hall was a good opportunity to get to know other Masters. We also met the Deacons of all the Glaswegian Guilds who are equally proud of their traditions. There are strong links, for example, between the Coopers in London and Glasgow.

17th June

All aboard the charabanc for our day of touring the highlights of Glasgow. We were taken to three shrines to Glasgow’s pride: the three masted barque Glenlee, representing the proud history of shipbuilding on the Clyde; then to the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross building showcasing the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Finally, we were taken to the Burrell Collection which had reopened earlier this year after many years of restoration and repair to the building. I last visited this world class museum, in its fabulous woodland setting, 40 years ago and, even then, the problems with the flat roof parts of the building had started to become apparent. All this has now been put right and we had a wonderful tour with a brilliant guide who gave expert and succinct talks on 6 or 7 prize exhibits.

To say that the collection is eclectic is a wild understatement. We saw pictures by Cezanne and Degas, priceless oriental carpets, bronzes by Rodin, Chinese porcelain, ancient stone gateways, medieval tapestries and stained glass. It is an Arts Scholar’s heaven! One particularly astonishing object is a Tudor bed-hanging with the embroidered initials of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I did not know that after Anne’s death the King made possession of any such artefact a capital offence, so its survival is incredible. Then, there are artefacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. For me, the ‘showstopper’ is the Warwick Vase (so-called as it was acquired by the 2nd Earl of Warwick from his uncle Sir William Hamilton). This beautiful, colossal Roman marble vase originally adorned the sumptuous palace that was Emperor Hadrian’s Villa in modern day Tivoli. Had Sir William Burrell, the man who collected all these extraordinary objects, been alive today I am sure he would be a prime candidate for membership of the Arts Scholars. If you are an Arts Scholar and you haven’t been to this world class museum, drop everything and go now! You won’t be disappointed.

The Warwick Vase at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow

(the Master is there to indicate scale)

In the evening we donned black tie and badges and were driven to a reception and dinner at City Chambers. This magnificent building is a monument to Glaswegian civic pride and claims to have more marble than the Vatican! We were treated to the piping in of the haggis and a wonderfully dramatic rendering of Robbie Burns’ Address to a Haggis which begins: “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!” Needless to say, the first course of our splendid meal was indeed haggis liberally doused with “the water of life.” The evening was extremely congenial and camaraderie amongst the livery companies abounded.

Graham and Joanna, City Chambers dinner in Glasgow for the Livery weekend

19th June

A dinner for the Past Masters of the Arts Scholars. This had been booked at Fortnum & Mason but because of a power outage (haven’t they heard of back-up generators?) this was hastily rearranged to the River restaurant at the Savoy. A very jolly time was had by all; it was especially good to see Philippa Glanville.

21st June

As a keen numismatist I attended the AGM of the Royal Numismatic Society at The Society of Antiquaries. This was Roger Bland’s farewell as President and the election of Arts Scholar Martin Allen as the new President. Congratulations to Martin on this prestigious appointment.

22nd June

Armed Forces flag raising day in Guildhall Yard on one of the hottest days of the year so far. The Common Councillors had a special area in the centre of the Yard and with their fur-lined gowns it must have been a little warm. The heat was too much for one cadet who fainted but was immediately escorted to cool safety and replaced in the line. I had the pleasure of meeting Lt Col Jono Mills MBE, commanding officer of The University of London Officers' Training Corps (ULOTC) which is one of the military units supported by the Arts Scholars (you win a prize if you can name the two other units with which we are affiliated without looking it up!).

23rd June

Dinner for those who chair WCAS Committees at the Oriental Club with excellent discussions about the future of the Company.

24th June

To the Mansion House for the General Assembly of the Priory of St John, hosted by the Lord Mayor. An excellent meeting setting out a clear vision for the future of St John Ambulance. Fellow Arts Scholars spotted at this event included the Clerk and Elizabeth Mellows.

26th June

It was marvellous to take part in Common Hall for the Election of Sheriffs at the Guildhall. Before this important event, there was a breakfast for Masters at Armourers Hall where I recognised several Masters I had met in Glasgow and introduced myself to many more. I then met the Clerk in Guildhall who had brought the Master’s gown and chain. 110 Livery Company Masters assembled in the Crypt in gowns and chains. As the Master of the newly formed Nurses Livery company can only join this event in a year’s time, I had the honour of leading the other 109 Masters and Prime Wardens into Guildhall.

The Master with Bob Harland, Master Tax Adviser, preparing

for the Shrieval Common Hall at Guildhall

27th June

A morning Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Sir Christopher Wren at St Paul’s Cathedral which marked the tercentenary of his death. This was attended by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress. Past Master Arts Scholar, Loyd Grossman gave one of the readings in his capacity as Chair of Gresham College. A superb service with the most wonderful music, the highlight for me being Bruckner’s ‘Locus Iste’.

A different music event in the evening at the Old Bailey where the Old Bailey choir performed a range of music for the Sheriffs’ & Recorder’s Fund. Excellent readings were given by some of His Majesty’s judges.

28th June

The Haughton International Seminar in Belgrave Square: “The Power and Prestige of Collecting”. Excellent presentations given by a range of international experts including Arts Scholar Timothy Schroder. It’s amazing that Arts Scholars Brian and Anna Haughton have been holding this annual seminar for over forty years (Brian and Anna must have started when they were mere children).

30th June

The Awards Lunch of the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars Charitable Trust Awards Lunch at Founders Hall. A really wonderful occasion organised by the WCASCT for past and present recipients of WCASCT awards. Tom Christopherson presided over the event with great flair. There were students, supported by the Charity from the Universities of York, Sussex and Warwick; there were staff we support from the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Guildhall Art Gallery, the V & A, the National Maritime Museum along with the Director of the Royal Collection Trust and the Deputy Surveyor of the Kings Works of Art. Several of the recipients of awards spoke very articulately about the importance of the Arts Scholars Charitable Trust Award. I hope all Arts Scholars feel as proud as I do of everything the charity is achieving in its support for so many individuals and institutions across such a broad spectrum of the Arts.




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Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by the author of this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars or its members.

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