Contact our Clerk, Fiona Janczur:


Let Us Love One Another

The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers

2008 - 2009 Events

29th October - Installation Day
For any Livery Company its Installation Day is one of the major highlights of the year. It is an opportunity of looking back over the year of the retiring Master and to welcome his or her successor. For the Basketmakers' Company the Installation Day in 2008 had an even more special significance as we made a break with our long tradition of attending St Margaret Pattens Church for the blessing of the new Prime Warden and went instead to Bevis Marks Synagogue. Not only that but in place of a morning service we had a special evening service so that we could see the Synagogue illuminated by its magnificent candelabra. Bevis Marks opened in 1701 to serve the newly permitted congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews and has remained virtually unchanged to this day. It was built in the style of the non-conformist chapels of the time and the influence of Sir Christopher Wren could be seen throughout the design and decoration.
Over 120 Basketmakers and their guests were treated to a moving service conducted by Rabbis Natan Asmoucha and Malcolm Weisman OBE joined by our own Rev Andrew Pearson. At the end of the service there was also an opportunity for Past Prime Warden Olivia Elton Barratt to present the Synagogue with a beautiful basket as a permanent reminder of the occasion.
After the service we walked back to Skinners' Hall for the Installation Ceremony itself and again there was a break with tradition in that not only was Graham Lewinstein installed as Prime Warden but also his two Wardens, Michael Stemp and Peter Yarker were also installed at the same time. A truly memorable occasion.

5th November - Stewards' Club Dinner at the RAC Club

8th November - Lord Mayor's Show

23rd November - Basketmaking Day
Our Trade Advisor, Mrs Mary Butcher again lead the day. The theme was "Small Baskets for Table & Kitchen"

3rd December - Court meeting and Dinner for visiting Masters and Clerks at Haberdashers' Hall
Roger de Pilkyngton, Clerk of the Company was made an Honorary Liveryman of the Company. Miss Charlotte Burles, Sebastian Mowbray, Miss Michelle Preston and David Meredith were made Freemen of the Company. Mrs Patricia Carter and Richard Collis were clothed in the Livery of the Company.

11th December - Joint Carol Service with the Pattenmakers' Company at St Margaret Pattens
Following the service there were refreshemtns served in the church and then some Memebrs of each Company retired to Balls Brothers for an informal buffet supper.

28th January - Court meeting and Livery Dinner at Skinners' Hall
Thomas Davison was admitted to the Company as Freeman by Patrimony, Graham Jacob was admitted to the Freedom of the Company by Redemption. Mrs Edith Colston, Miss Emma Jones, Kenneth McLachlan and Gordon Patman were all clothed in the Livery of the Company.

11th February - Private visit to the "Breughel to Rubens" exhibition at the Queen's Gallery
This first ever exhibition of the finest Flemish paintings in the Royal Collection opened to great acclaim at the Queen's Gallery, Edinburgh in 2007. Comprising 51 works created during the period 1500-1665 in the Southern Netherlands, it includes masterpieces by Rubens, the father of Flemish painting, Van Dyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his son Jan Bruegel. Many of these major works of art have rarely been seen outside the Royal Household and this promised to be one of the most popular London exhibitions of 2009.
We arranged a private evening viewing, in conjunction with the Marketors' Company, which included a talk by one of the curators of the Queen's Gallery. The evening ended with a glass of wine in the Gallery Shop.

24th February - Inter-Livery Pancake Race
This year saw the fifth running of this keenly-fought contest. The event itself is run by the Poulters' Company in conjunction with The Cook and Butler catering company. It also involves a number of other Companies contributing their help and expertise. The Clockmakers do the timing of the event; the Gunmakers provide the starting cannon, and the Fruiterers the lemons. Even the Musicians Company are involved, providing a specially composed "Pancake Anthem".
There are 24 teams competing in four different classes. There are races for the Master, Ladies, Liverymen and a novelty section reflecting the theme of the Lord Mayor's Appeal. The Basketmakers were once again present with a team consisting of Past Prime Warden Olivia Elton Barratt, Heather Owen, Philip Miles and Jason McCreanney. Alas we did not win one of the coveted Silver Frying Pans but who knows, maybe next year?
For those Companies unable to obtain a place in the main races there is a separate competition for the Wooden Spoon. The winner this year was our Clerk's mother Company the Marketors! Incidentally there is absolutely no truth to the rumour that in future we will be looking for much younger Prime Wardens to improve our chances of success.

The crowds of supporters have grown each year and even the poor weather did not deter them this year. After the event the runners and their supporters retired to the Crypt at Guildhall for a welcome mug of soup and a buffet lunch. This is a great inter-livery event and I strongly urge you to put the date down in your diaries for next year - perhaps even volunteer to run in the team? Each runner gets a specially made Basketmakers Apron and a commemorative mug so now is the time to start your training. The date for next year is 16th February.

March - Basketmakers Swimming Team
The City Dip is an annual swimming event held in the City of London to raise funds for the charities nominated by the Lord Mayor during his year in office. It was in 1996, 13 years ago, when John Heffernan was Prime Warden that our Learned Clerk Gerald Flint-Shipman, asked Norman Woolley if he swam, his response was yes, so he was immediately appointed the Captain of what became the Basketmakers Swimming Team.

7th March - Basketmaking Day
Yeoman Sandra Barker lead the day. The theme was "Wall Hanging Basket for Plants". A full house of eager baskermakers were working in brown willow and with spring in the air  this was be an ideal time to be making these.

27th March - United Guilds Service St Paul's and lunch at Butchers' Hall
This is one of the rare opportunities to see all of the City of London Livery Companies gathered together in one place, making an impressive and moving spectacle. The Preacher this year was The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans who spoke with his usual mixture of wit and wisdom

29th March - Court meeting and Livery Dinner at Skinners' Hall
Mrs Mary Butcher was formally presented with her badge as Honorary Trade Adviser to the Company. The badge had been commissioned and presented to the Company by PPW Richard Walduck. The draft budget submitted by the Finance Committee was approved. Henry Redcliffe attended and was Bound as Apprentice to his father Alderman Neil Redcliffe for a term of 2 years. Mark Harris, Govind Kanagaratnam and Oliver Sloam were all clothed in the Livery of the Company.

April -Basketmakers at Fortnum & Mason
Those of you who frequent this most exclusive of London stores will have seen the magnificent spring window displays featuring a number of Livery Companies and the Basketmakers in particular.
Fortnum & Mason obviously have strong connections with many of the trades represented within the Livery Companies of the City of London and indeed their family members have been members of a number of Companies over their long history. They therefore felt that it would be highly appropriate to recognise the contribution played by some of the more active older Companies towards their respective trades. They have therefore allotted a window each to half a dozen Companies to show, not Fortnum & Mason merchandise but Livery history. The Basketmakers window in Duke Street features some of the items from our collection including the Sorrel Boot, Verney Spoon, Bobart Baskets, Krupinski Baskets and the set of miniature basket making tools given to the Company by A L Bateman.
In addition to the Basketmakers' window one of the main Piccadilly windows features a dramatic display of basket ware by our own Yeoman Sally Goymer. This includes some huge basket ware daffodils! During the recent half term, another Yeoman Member, Sandra Barker, did a day in the store demonstrating basket making and encouraging the youngsters present to have a go.
The display will be in place until mid April so if you are anywhere in the area please do take the time to look - it is not often that the Livery Companies venture up west.

13th May - Visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Palace at Kew

The world renowned gardens extend over 300 acres combining a scientific centre with a historic pleasure garden and Royal Palace which are celebrating their 250th anniversary years old this year.
In 1731 Frederick Prince of Wales leased Kew and started to lay out the gardens but in 1759 his widow, Augusta Dowager Princes of Wales, created the Botanic Garden as we know it today.
We were met at the main gate by giant 3-5 m high seed sculptures, all woven by hand by artist Tom Hare, including works depicting Chestnuts, Acorn, Devils Claws and a "Banksia" seed pod all constructed out of Willow.
It had been organised for us to have use of the Kew Explorer with a private guide to take us around the 300 acres, as nobody volunteered to walk! We were shown plants from Bluebells to the giant California Redwood Tree, to the newly constructed Bee Hives which are the "in thing". We passed the original Palm House built by Decimus Burton in 1844 which contains over 3,000 species including a Giant Chilean Wine Palm, the second oldest specimen at Kew. We then continued to the Princess of Wales Conservatory and pass the 163 feet high Great Pagoda built by William Chambers in 1761. The lions on each of the 10 storeys have gone missing (if anybody knows where they are to be found, please could you let the manager of Kew know their present whereabouts).
We then proceeded to meet Dr Mark Nesbitt and his assistant to be given a private tour of the Economic Botany Collection in the Jodrell Laboratory. This centre is concerned with the accurate identification of plants, living and dried, from worldwide sources. It is also a quarantine station and involved in the conservation of endangered plant species. We were shown baskets of various sizes and designs, including some going back over 300 years made out of willow, from very delicately hand made handbags to snail catchers, including the original Egyptian Shabti basket work presented to Kew by our Company.
After lunch in the Orangery we proceeded to have a private tour of Kew Palace (see group picture outside the Palace, inset). The Palace is a small Jacobean house built in 1631 in red brick laid in "Flemish Bond". Originally occupied by a Lord Mayor of London it was taken on in 1728 by George 11 and continued in Royal occupancy until the death of Queen Charlotte (consort of George 111) in 1818.
A major restoration project was completed in 2006. The interior has now been fully restored to the Georgian period using the original colours for the fabrics and paint work with original furniture of the period.
Some of the rooms have been left in situ to show the different types of construction and decorative alterations that the Palace has been through over its long history. The gardens behind Kew Palace were only laid out in 1969 in the style of a 17th century garden with the herbal plants of the period.
It was for all a most enjoyable and educational day at Kew.

17th June - Summer Dinner at Waterman's Hall
We returned to the City once again for our Summer Dinner. This year we visited the Watermen's Hall. This is the only original Georgian hall in the City, dating from 1780. It was designed by William Blackburn whose other claim to fame was as a designer of prisons! The Watermen's Hall though is a perfect example of 18th century domestic architecture. The Hall was extended in 1983 to include the Freeman's Room where we dined.

The Watermen's Company are of course one of the few City Companies without Livery, being founded by Act of Parliament in 1555. They continue to this day to control and train all those working on the River Thames. They also run the Doggett's Coat & Badge Race. Founded in 1715, this is a sculling race for young Freemen of the Company and is one of the oldest competitions in the world. It involves rowing from London Bridge to Chelsea so is not for the faint hearted. The winner is permitted to wear the distinctive scarlet uniform and silver arm badge of a waterman.

24th June - Election of Sheriffs at Guildhall and lunch at Farmers' and Fletchers' Hall

15th July - Court meeting and Livery Dinner at Skinners' Hall
The Court duly elected Michael Stemp as the next Prime Warden, with Peter Yarker as Upper Warden and Deputy John Barker as Under Warden for the year 2009/10. Mrs Mary Crabb was sworn in as a Yeoman of the Company, Andrew Stenning and Cyril Theret were sworn in as Freemen of the Company and Mrs Catherine Flew and Mrs Penny Spink were clothed in the Livery of the Company.

July - London Bridge 800th Anniversary
On a beautiful warm July morning, Yeoman Members Sandra Barker and Sally Goymer made their way to London to represent the Basketmakers Company by demonstrating the basketmaking trade at the celebration of the 800 year anniversary of King John's opening of old London Bridge.

The green pagoda to accommodate their displays was located mid-bridge. Luckily, their pagoda was well tied down, as one had blown over into the river Thames.

Blacksmiths hammering, Stonewallers walling, Distillers serving, Glaziers taking photos through mock stained glass windows, sheep being driven, a marvellous representation of the City Livery Companies. The Lord Mayor processed along the bridge visiting the many Companies on show and he spent quite a time talking to us, saying that he was looking forward to welcoming The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers to his home on the 23rd September for their Annual Banquet.

Sandra Barker is fascinated by the history of the basketmaking trade and keeps samples of several unusual baskets on display when demonstrating, from stroms (Sieve for old fire hoses) to Guards' bearskin hat frames, which certainly caught everyone's attention passing by, as did Sally Goymer with her wonderful display of baskets and skein willow work.

Crowds of lovely interested people and exciting happenings like the Watermens' races going on below us in the river, a test for passing into their Company, continued to happen throughout the day. The event was very well organised and once in possession of a Trade Pass, unlimited tea/coffee and beautifully cooked food in Fishmongers Hall was available!

23rd September - Annual Banquet at The Mansion House
For those Livery Companies fortunate enough to be granted the privilege of holding a lunch or dinner at Mansion House, it is inevitably the highlight of the year. Not only because of the splendour of the building itself but also because it is a tangible demonstration of the Company's support for the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs. 2009 saw the Basketmakers' Company celebrate its 440th Annual Banquet at Mansion House.
It is probable that the earlier banquets were somewhat of a more informal affair - alas the Basketmakers Company records do not tell us where and when they were held!
In recent times though this has always been a formal dinner in the best tradition of the City of London, unlike any other event that you will go to in Park Lane or beyond. With the majority of the men in white tie and the ladies in full evening dress it is a truly great occasion. With the ceremony of the loving cup, the passing of the rosewater, the post horn gallop, and the Civic Party in their formal dress, this is dining in a grand manner.
Last year the Basketmakers' Company had an attendance of some 297. With the credit crunch and a general tightening of belts this year it was anticipated that if we got 200-220 we would be doing well. In the event 305 attended, a turnout that caused comment from the Lord Mayor himself on the evening and in a follow up letter to the Prime Warden.
In addition to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress we also entertained the Sheriffs and their Ladies. Our three affiliated armed forces were also represented by the new Captain of HMS Richmond Captain M. Walliker and his wife, the new CO of No 5 Squadron, Wing Commander R. P. Barrow and his wife and from 100 Regiment Major Simon Saddler. We also welcomed Captain R. G. Howe and Mrs. Howe from the Light Cavalry HAC who has for many years provided the Carpet Guard (above) for the evening and this year the Prime Warden presented them with a splendid new silver trumpet (right) bearing the Company's coat of arms. From Sheffield we welcomed the Master and Mistress Cutler, Mr G. Howell and his wife. Last but not least we also welcomed our Honorary Chaplain, Andrew Pearson and our Trade Adviser, Mary Butcher.
Thanks to the generosity of Past Prime Warden Richard Walduck we were also able to welcome a large number of the Yeoman Members of the Company.


  Prime Warden

  Graham Lewinstein with the Shabti basket at Kew Gardens

The Mistress Basketmaker, Mrs Jenny Lewinstein, and other Basketmakers at Kew Gardens