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September 2023

1st September: to the City University Club for a Fish & Chip lunch organised by Sonya Zuckerman. This was a delightful occasion with eight of us, a mixture of newer and older Arts Scholars and a very jolly time was had by all. The conversation ranged from the workings of the Society of Antiquaries and the new meaning of "in perpetuity", flying squirrels, the BBC choosing manicured hands for close-up shots of artefacts over the specialists', the Lambeth Palace robbery recovery, and on a more serious note discussing the importance of preserving the integrity of art scholarship. A wonderful way to promote Fellowship in the Company and for newer members to get to know us better.

4th September: final preparations this week for the Gala Auction at Christie’s. Great excitement about the plans for the event on 13th September. All is in hand with the excellent members of the auction committee working as a wonderful team. It is a huge amount of preparation with a large team of people providing a range of expertise that we are so fortunate to have in the Arts Scholars.

11th September: a private tour of Temple Bar with some fellow Arts Scholars given by Chris Dyson, Master of the Worshipful Company of Architects. I had won this tour in an auction at a reception given by the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants. We were treated to full history of Temple Bar which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1672. It was nearly lost for ever after being taken down in the 19th century to improve traffic in Fleet Street. However, it caught the eye of Lady Meux, a banjo playing Casino barmaid who had married into a very wealthy family of London brewers. It became a focal point of the Meux family estate, Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. Never again will I hear a bad word said against banjo playing barmaids!

Graham and Joanna with Wendy Joseph
Hugh Edmeades & Anne Somers – auction stars

13th September: the day of the auction at Christie’s. Briefing of the volunteers took place at 4.00pm - we are so lucky to have volunteer stewards and friends of Arts Scholars who helped make the evening such a success. Members of the HAC provided a splendid carpet guard, thanks to John Hudson. The champagne, sponsored by Anne and Jack Rogers Haley, started flowing at 6.15 pm and well over 100 guests poured in to Christie’s. Before long, Lord Snowdon was making the introduction as Patron and then Hugh Edmeades, gavel in hand, was soon in full flight. Hugh had predicted that the experiences would sell well – and boy, did they sell well ! An astonishing amount was paid for the mud-larking alone and overall the live auction raised over £38k. A wonderful amount. Stars of the evening were Anne Somers and Hugh Edmeades – who, as our brilliant and witty man of the podium, inspired some young people present to want to be an auctioneer! My profound thanks to all who donated and bid so generously. An Arts Scholars night to remember.

14th September: to the City of London Club for a Chamber of Commerce reception. It was Interesting to hear Alok Sharma speak so eloquently about climate change.

15th September: I spoke at a numismatic conference at the Bank of England and then met the Clerk and Wardens for lunch at the wonderful George and Vulture – an inn frequented in the past by Charles Dickens!

18th September: to Farmers and Fletchers Hall for an extremely enjoyable lunch at the invitation of the Worshipful Company of Farmers. Everyone was greeted by the Clerk at the door to the Hall and Master greeted us at the reception. it was no surprise to see fellow Arts Scholars Mary Foster and Tony Alston (past Master Farmer). In the evening the chairs of WCAS committees met me and the Clerk for dinner at Painter Stainers Hall to prepare for the coming Court meeting. We had dinner in the stunning painted room and the meal was of a very high standard – as indeed was the conversation.

19th September: I met the Clerk at St Paul’s Cathedral to attend evensong and the Dean’s reception in the crypt afterwards. At the reception, Kate Pink the Clerk to Guild of Freemen asked me for an introduction to Loyd Grossman, which I was happy to do – it was nice to see our Past Master! The Dean of St Pauls, Andrew Tremlett, promoted the new initiative to take on female choristers and explained they needed to raise £10 million to repair the famous dome and also the ball and cross at the summit. We were treated to some music – one piece being by Schubert with a contrasting song from Mary Poppins – ‘Feed the Birds’ which left not a dry eye in the crypt!

20th September: to Drapers Hall with Joanna for a dinner to support the Bomb Disposal charity, the Felix Fund.

21st September: Court Meeting and Common Hall. The clerk had arranged a tour of the Guildhall Art Gallery prior to Common Hall and, rather wonderfully, two Arts Scholars were our guides: Anne-Marie Craven and Ian Swankie. Of course, my favourite part was the visit to what remains of the Roman amphitheatre in the basement. It’s amazing that any of it survives at all and there are wonderful visual displays of men who fought in the arena. At Common Hall, as the Master and Wardens processed in, there was an almighty clap of thunder heralding their arrival! Many of the presenters, chairs of committees used powerpoint slides, to very good effect. Mark Dennis caused great amusement by creating a virtual map in front of him to point to various cities in the country. It was a lively event and it was good to see so many questions coming from the floor. Afterwards we enjoyed canapes and drinks in a very convivial atmosphere. An excellent evening.

No grazing allowed!

24th September: to Southwark Bridge with Joanna for the Sunday sheep drive. Organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, to raise money for their charity, this was a very jolly event. We registered at a desk on the north side of the bridge and enjoyed the many stalls and tents selling all sorts of sheep and non-sheep related wares. It was good to have Arts Scholar James Ferrers in our group and we duly drove a very lively flock of sheep for a carefully fenced section across Southwark Bridge. We then met fellow Arts Scholars Gaby Robertshaw and Dawn Mullins who had also driven their sheep with an earlier group and had a very enjoyable lunch in Borough Market ( though none of us chose to eat lamb!).

25th September: A grim day – I had to appear at the Old Bailey arraigned on a charge of treason. Actually, there were 18 Masters taking part in ‘Jailed and Bailed’ which is an annual event to raise money for the Red Cross. We were taken into a Court Room where Sheriff Andrew Marsden, with great aplomb, read out the charges – I was charged with impersonating a Roman Emperor with intent to take over the Country! Then we were taken in a double-decker bus to the Tower of London where were escorted by a Beefeater (or Yeoman Warder, as he is properly called) who carried a large axe to a dining room where we given copious amounts of Pol Roger and treated to an excellent lunch. Meanwhile out consorts were taken by the Consort of the Master of Chartered Accountants for extensive counselling and also treated to a good lunch. There was an emotional reunion of Masters and Consorts outside the Tower – another enjoyable day laced with humour and hilarity!

Masters behind bars!

26th September: reception at Drapers Hall promoting the Sussex Community Foundation. This was organised by Mark Spofforth, past Master Horner, and as I am Vice President of the Berkshire community Foundation, this was a very interesting event with presentations about the Cost of Living Crisis which. We should all be aware that this is seriously impacting the lower paid members of society.

27th September: attended the Soldiering On Awards at the Park Plaza Hotel. These awards recognise ex- military people who set up charities and businesses which achieve success in the community.

28th September: Joanna held a Consorts event at the Athenaeum. Around 50 Consorts attended the talk given by Dame Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. This was a fascinating and entertaining talk about Kathryn ‘s role with one of the great orchestras of the world. A champagne reception followed.

Joanna & Dame Kathryn McDowell
The Consorts

29th September: to the Guildhall for the Lord Mayor’s election. Our Beadle Nick Gilbert met me to bring and put on the magnificent Master’s chain. While I was robing in the Crypt, several Masters came up to me and said how much their Consorts had enjoyed the evening last night organised by Joanna at the Athenaeum. As the Nurses cannot participate in processions for their first year, I had the honour of leading 109 other Masters firstly to a service at St Lawrence Jewry and then into Guildhall for the Election. The ancient ceremony was re-enacted with great style. With feigned surprise, Michael Mainelli was duly declared the next Lord Mayor of London. He will succeed Nicholas Lyons who gave a very articulate speech about his time as Lord Mayor and gave a very moving tribute to his wife Felicity for all she had done to support him during his year.

The Master leading the Livery
Crossing Guildhall Yard to St Lawrence

Afterwards a group of Arts Scholars, including past Masters Georgina Gough and John Spanner, repaired to a fine lunch at Founders Hall, organised by Upper warden Roy Sully. A splendid end to another splendid week as Master of the Arts Scholars, a role I am so proud to hold.




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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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