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Let Us Love One Another

The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers

2011 - 2012 Events

19th October - Installation Service and Livery Dinner - Skinners' Hall
Inevitably this is one of the highlights of our year. The evening began with the Installation Day service at St Margaret Pattens. This was lead by Rev Hugh Thomas together with the resident choir under the charge of Rupert Perkins. The preacher was Rev Canon Wilkeley who was personally invited by the Prime Warden, Peter Yarker. Following the service the congregation walked to Skinners' Hall and there they saw the new Prime Warden, Deputy John Barker sworn in. With him were his new Upper Warden, Alderman Neil Redcliffe and Under Warden, Richard Gillis. The ceremony was followed by a Livery Dinner and of course last but not least a stirrup cup before facing the journey home

12th November - Lord Mayor's Show, lunch at Farmers & Fletchers' Hall
Once again the sun shone for the Lord Mayor's Show as The Lord Mayor, Alderman David Wootton made his way through the streets of London. The procession of some 6,000 people were lead by the magnificent figures of Gogo & Magog drawn by the Society of Young Freemen and our own 100 Regiment. Also in the procession this year was a large contingent from the Zurich Guilds ( see the article and photos in the news section). After the procession a small group of Basketmakers once again made their way to the Farmers & Fletchers Hall for a relaxing and delicious lunch.

16th November - Masters & Clerks Dinner, Skinners' Hall
Prior to the dinner the new Prime Warden presided over his first Court meeting. The first item was the installation of Stephen Bowsher, Hedley French, Anthony Pipkin and James Woodley as Stewards. The draft accounts for the year were approved. The Clerk Recruitment working party also reported on their progress and a lively discussion followed. The Court was also interested to hear the first report from Hedley French regarding the new affiliation with No 2 Company Cadets. Following the official business Roger Harper, James Lambert and Donald McGarr were admitted to the Freedom of the Company and Cheong Lam was clothed in the Livery of the Company.
After the Court meeting the Court entertained no less than 37 Masters of other Livery Companies, together with their Clerks.The Prime Warden welcomed the assembled group and the Master Baker, Alan Cornwell gave a vote of thanks on behalf of all the guests.

26th November -
Basketmaking Day, Royal National Hotel
Led by our own Trade Adviser, Mary Butcher, the theme for the day was "Presents for Chrsitmas", working in willow. Around a dozen Basketmakers attended including the Prime Warden and the Upper Warden. By tradition all Prime Wardens are expected to make a basket before their year in office and so both the Prime Warden and Upper Warden were keen to show their abilities!

December -  Carol Service St Margaret Pattens, supper Watermen's Hall

1st February - Court meeting and Livery Dinner
The first Court meeting of the year saw a very full agenda. Before the business began the Trade Adviser was clothed in a new gown that had been presnted to the Company by Immediate Past Prime Warden Peter Yarker. Amongst the items discussed was an update as to the search for a new Clerk following the retirement later this year of our current Clerk.There were also full reports of our wide range of affiliations with the Armed Forces and with other organisation, not least the Letzi Guild of Zurich. At the end of the Court meeting Captain Simon Martin and Christopher Wilkey were admitted to the Freedom of the Company and James Lambert was clothed in the Livery of the Company.
After the Court meeting there was a Livery dinner. Amongst our guests were the Masters of the Butchers, Fruiterers and Gardeners' Companies together with their Clerks.Also representatives from HMS Richmond and No 5 Squadron RAF. The Toast to the Guests was proposed by Assistant Philip Miles and the response was made by Mrs Venetia Howes, Past Master Marketor. In an amusing and insightful speech she outlined the great privledge that was enjoyed by Freemen of the City but reminded them that this also came with obligations to support both the City and the Livery. The Prime Warden ended the evening and presented baskets to Mrs Howes and the visiting Masters.

22nd February - Visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
It was a full house for this visit with a waiting list of Members who were not able get a place. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is rated by the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest operating manufacturing business in the country, founded in 1420. We were greeted by the current owner Mr Alan Hughes together with his wife and daughters who are all involved in the business. Indeed Mr Hughes is the fourth generation of his family to run the Foundry. We were given a fascinating tour of the premises which really seem to have changed little from the days of Charles Dickens. He explained the methods of making bells - both large church bells and small hand bells. The problem with the former is that the Church of England tends to move rather slowly so the lead in time for orders can be as much as 100 years!
We were especially lucky to see the new set of bells that the Foundry have produced for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. These bells will be placed on a barge will lead the Royal Regatta on the River Thames that will be a highlight of the celebrations this year. At the end of the extensive tour we repaired to the Foundry House, a quaint Georgian town house were we were very well fed and watered before making our departure.

3rd March - Basketmaking Day at the Royal National Hotel
Once again a band of intrepid Members met to make baskets! The day was lead by one of our Yeoman members, Sandra Barker assisted by another of our regular Yeoman instructors, Betty Grace. The group met at the Royal National Hotel, just off Russell Square, courtesy of Past Prime Warden Richard Walduck. The task for the day was working in willow and each of those attending ended the day with their willow basket, sore hands and a day of good companionship

25th March - Court meeting and Livery Dinner
The second Court meeting of the year included the submission by the Finance Committee of their proposed budget for 2012/13. This was adopted by the Court. The Court were also updated on the recent visit by the Company to Zurich where they were entertained by the Letzi Guild during the Sechselauten. Admitted as Freemen at the Court meeting were Steven Tamcken and Mrs Aileen Wells-Martin. Also clothed in the Livery were Julian Adams, Roger Harper and Donald McGarr. Following the Court meeting was our traditional Livery Dinner and for the first time we were joined by members of 2 Cadet Force who mounted a Guard for us. Amongst the Company guests on the evening were the Masters of the Founders and Pattenmakers together with their clerks. We also entertained Lt Col Andy Brown and RSM Ridley from 100 Regiment and Rev Hugh Thomas, the newly appointed Priest in Charge at St Margaret Pattens. The main speaker of the evening was Ms Debbie Leach who is the Chief Executive of Thames 21 a leading charity devoted to keeping the River Thames and London's other waterways clean and tidy. Although she has only a staff of 15 she has no less than 15,000 volunteers! Which is a good thing because this is an especially busy year for her with the Queen's Jubilee Regatta and the Olympics to contend with. The Toast to the Guests was given by Assistant Peter Allen and the Prime Warden ended the evening inviting all those present to join him in a stirrup cup.

13th June - Tour of the Bank of England 

The Bank of England was granted Royal Charter by William 111 in the year 1694 first and foremost for the funding of the National Debt (nothing changes).   The first Governor of the Bank was Sir John Houblon with a Deputy and 24 Directors under him. With 19 staff the Bank began business in Mercers' Hall then moved to Grocers' Hall where it stayed until 1734 when it moved to its present site in Threadneedle Street.  Over the next century it gradually expanded until by 1833 when it covered the whole of the present 3½acre site now employing 1600 people. 

The Bank was originally design by George Sampson in 1734 with further work by Sir Robert Taylor between 1767 and 1774. Major reconstruction was then carried out by Sir John Sloane in the neo-classical style in 1788. Between 1925 and 1939 it was rebuilt once again in its present form by Sir Herbert Baker now being seven stories high and three stories below however, he did retain the originally outer walls (no windows) by Sir John Sloane and the Court Room and the Committee Room by Sir Robert Taylor. 

The present building cost £ 5 ½ million pounds, only the very best artists and craftsmen were employed using the finest materials, from Portland stone for the exterior to English oak for panelling to bronze doors and sculptor’s by Charles Wheeler for the interior. The fine mosaic flooring by Boris Anrep contains symbols of money and British coinage and in the main entrance hall as a centrepiece is a mosaic of St. George and the Dragon not Britannia who is the symbol of the Bank. 

The first room we were taken into is a reconstruction of the Bank Stock Office first built in 1793 showing the original layout of this room. In the middle of the Bank is to be found Garden Court, just outside the Governor’s office, where you will find four mulberry trees which are there as reminders of the origins of paper money also their roots do not grow deep down so they will not interfere with the vaults below. The interior of the Bank has a fine second century Roman pavement at the bottom of the cantilever staircase. They have a collection of paintings including the “Old Stock Market” which was on the site of the present Mansion House by Josef van Aken c.1720.  The well know picture “Dividend Day at the Bank of England” by George Hicks 1850 and also a portrait of the longest serving Governor Montague Norman 1920 to 1944 by Augustus John. 

A 16 century Flemish tapestry given by the Bank of Belgium and a set of Polish engraved glassware given by the Bank of Poland were given to the Bank of England in recognition of the help the Bank gave to these two National Banks in the Second World War. The numerous rooms we visited were well furnished with items from the Georgian period including Chippendale mirrors, desks, alabaster chimney piece, clocks and Blue John vases.  The Bank has a very fine collection of silver dating from the year of its founding 1694. We were shown a copy of the cartoon by James Gilroy published in 1797 where the well know saying “The Old Lady of Threadneedle” comes from which was when the Bank restricted the payment of its notes in gold. 

The Upper Warden Neil Redcliffe gave a vote of thanks to our guide John Keyworth for a most informative and interesting tour.

13th June - Summer Dinner at Watermen's Hall

By popular demand we once again returned to Watermen's Hall for the Summer Dinner.This was originally known as the Ladies Dinner but the title was changed some years ago to reflect the high percentage of ladies that the Company now has.For once it was a true summer evening with glorious sunshine to welcome us to the only original Georgian Hall in London. After drinks in the Old Court Room we sat down to dinner in the Freemen's Room. We had a delicious dinner supplied by Cook & Butler and at the end of dinner the Prime Warden brought us all up to date on his visits to Sheffield for the Cutler's Feast and Ironbridge for the Livery Weekend.After dinner it was back to the Court Room for a stirrup cup.It was good to see some Members there who we had not seen for sometime especially Mrs Anne Holden who is currently having a very busy year as Master of the Guild of Freemen.

25th June - Election of Sheriffs

Around 30 Members of the Company joined Liverymen from all 108 Companies in Guildhall to excercise their right and duty as Liverymen and vote for the next Sheriffs to serve in the City. Elected this year were Alderman The Hon Jeffrey Evans and Nigel Pullman. Following the Election a dozen Members of the Company made the short walk over to Butchers' Hall for a delicious and delightful lunch of traditional Roast Beef.

2nd July - Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Summer Gala
This was a new venture for the Company and a couple of dozen Members joined the Prime Warden for drinks in the Conservatory at the Barbican and then dinner in the Garden Room. Following this we were lead down to the School's very own theatre in Silk Street for the London premiere of "Chaplin" a new musical based on the life of Charlie Chaplin. This was enjoyed by all and we were particularly impressed by the standard of these stars of tomorrow. The evening also raised much needed funds for the school. It was particularly appropriate to be here as the Principal of the School, Professor Barry Ife CBE will be our speaker at the next Livery Dinner.

15th July - Livery Concert Barbican Hall
Some time ago the Marketors Company were working with the Barbican and came up with the idea of holding a Livery Concert to try and increase the sense of ownership of the Livery for the Barbican Arts Centre. After all the City of London Corporation is one of the world's greatest supporters of the arts and it seemed only right that the Livery should feel a part of this as well. The gauntlet was taken up by Alderman Parmley and the first Livery Concert took place on Sunday 15th in the Barbican Hall. The London Symphony Orchestra, together with Renee Fleming, provided the music in addition to a pre-concert recital by students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The concert was an immediate sell out and 20 Members of the Company were there to join the Prime Warden in this exciting new venture. Such was the success of the evening that a date has already been announced for next year, Sunday 16th July 2013.

8th July - Court meeting and Livery Dinner
The Court meeting opened with the Clerk reporting the sad death of Liveryman Edwin Lanham. The Court stood for a minute's silence. The Clerk also reported the resignation from the Court and the Company of Assistant James Nunns. On a happier note the Prime Warden congratulated the Trade Adviser, Mrs Mary Butcher, on receiving an MBE in the Queeen's Birthday Honours List. He also noted that PPW John Heffernan and Veronica Heffernan were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and sent them all the best wishes from the Company.
During the Court meeting the following were duly elected for the coming year - Alderman Neil Redcliffe, Prime Warden, Richard Gillis, Upper Warden and Graham Aslet, Under Warden. The Court also elected Hedley French to serve as Chief Steward and Mrs Valerie Carroll, Michael Osborne, Roy Nottage and Mrs Yvonne Young to serve as Stewards. Lewis Bloch and Jonathan Pyzer were added to the Finance Committee and Asst Peter Allen handed over the Chairmanship of the Membership Committee to Asst Philip Miles with Julian Nichols as his Vice Chairman.
The Finance Committee had submitted a draft Investment Policy for the Court's approval and this was unanimously agreed. The Clerk reported that he had sent out around 100 application packs for the new Clerk's position and to date had received 7 completed applications.
PPW John Robinson reported that a recent mailshot to those not currently contributing to the Charitable Trust had received only a return of 14 out of 200 sent.. There was a lengthy debate about how to ensure that all Members contribute to the Charitable Trust and this matter was carried forward.
At the end of the Court meeting Rev Hugh Thomas was installed as the Honorary Chaplain and Andrew Ford was admitted as a Freeman of the Company.
The Court meeting was followed by a Livery Dinner and, as is the custom, this was to celebrate Our Trade. On show were the 6 finalists from the Basketware of the Year Competition held by the Company, including the winner, Mrs Dalila Hamiche, who is also a pupil at Kingsgate, one of the projects supported by the Charitable Trust. Several Yeoman Members also had items on display and for sale.
The Company enjoyed a delicious meal and the guests were welcomed by The Under Warden. Amongst the guests were the Master Salter, representatives from No 5 Squadron RAF and No 2 Cadet Unit who also provided a splendid Guard of Honour. Our principal speaker was Professor Barry Ife CBE, Principal of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The Prime Warden thanked him for his excellant speech and presented both Professor Ife and the Master Salter with a basket. It was then time to retire for a well earned stirrup cup.

19th September - 443rd Annual Banquet Mansion House
The Basketmakers' Company returned once again to Mansion House for our Annual Banquet. Unfortunately this year the Lord Mayor was on an official visit to China, together with our own Upper Warden, Alderman Neil Redcliffe.However our host for the evening was an old friend of the Company, Alderman Sir Robert Finch, accompanied by his wife Lady Finch. With them were Sheriff Wendy Mead and her escort Mr R Topping. The Esquire for the evening was the Lord Mayor's Swordbearer, Richard Martin. From our various affiliations we welcomed Commander Pedre the new Captain of HMS Richmond and from No 5 Squadron RAF we had Wg Cdr Alan Marshall and his wife. The Guard of Honour were once again provided by the Light Cavalry, HAC and Major Renne Simon and his wife were amongst our guests at dinner. Noted amongst the ranks was a certain Assistant Simon Langton looking resplendent in his Cavalry Uniform.
Grace was said by Rev Hugh Thomas, the Honorary Chaplain to the Company who dined with us, together with his wife.
The Mansion House provided a truly memorable meal and after the Rose Water and Loving Cups it was the turn of the Prime Warden to propose the Civic Toast and ended by presenting Lady Finch with a beautiful umbrella stand basket made by Yeoman John Galloway. Alderman Sir Robert Finch responded and presented the Prime Warden with a souvenir pen on behalf of the Lord Mayor. He also managed to take the Clerk by surprise with an additional gift of a souvenir mug from the Lord Mayor to mark his retirement from the Company.
In the absence of the Upper Warden the Toast to the Guests was made by the Immediate Past Prime Warden, Peter Yarker. The response on behalf of the guests was made by Master Steven Whitaker, the Queen's Rembrancer, a senior Law Lord and the holder of one of the oldest official roles in the Country, dating back to the early twelfth century.
The Prime Warden presented him with a Bottle Basket made by Yeoman Melanie Carroll and so ended yet another great occasion in the Company's history.

1st October - Election of the Lord Mayor
Once again the Liverymen of the City claimed their ancient right to elect their Lord Mayor. Even with the dreadful weather there was a full house at Guildhall to welcome the current Lord Mayor, Alderman David Wootton who lead the ceremony. After due deliberation Alderman Roger Gifford was elected as the new Lord Mayor and he will take up his role at the Silent Ceremony on 9th November. A number of Basketmakers were present and after the election they retired to the Salters' Hall where they had another splendid lunch with the Salters' Company. This is always a great occasion and one much appreciated by all the Basketmakers who attend.