From The Master

Monday 05 March 2018


Dear Members of the Court and fellow Liverymen,

I had intended originally to pen a “state of the nation” message in early January, but now find myself writing in early March with less than 3 months to go before our annual Election Day, which this year falls, for once, actually on the Monday immediately following Pentecost. Needless to say, I have been very busy and having great fun, with 91 events/dinners/meetings under my belt metaphorically speaking, at the time of writing, and at least a further 17 to come at the last count.

The Broderers finished last year on a high with 180 attending the Carol Service at St Margaret’s Westminster, on 08 December, and nearly 140 at our Associated Companies Dinner on 18 October, attended by the Lord Mayor and his Sheriffs, prior to which the Court witnessed no less than six freedom oaths from new applicants and one clothing of a liveryman, plus four past Mistresses reciting their oaths to become honorary freemen.

The good news is that our pipeline for new liverymen is back to six again, so 2018/19 is looking encouraging, given our goal of admitting at least five new liverymen every year.

Our relationships with our charities is very good with the BCT appointing a link-person for each of our stakeholders – the Royal School of Needlework, the Embroiderers Guild, The Grange, Fine Cell Work and now the Royal College of Art. Our military affiliations are strong, both with the 849 Naval Air Squadron (now in training on board the Queen Elizabeth II aircraft carrier based in Portsmouth) and the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment; the Regiment will be presented with new Colours by HRH the Duke of York on 22 September at their HQ in Belfast. And following our introduction over a year ago to the Bexley and Lewisham Sea Cadets, we are formalising a close link with them and with the wider sea cadet movement.


Next, I append below a message from Peter Crouch received on 15 February:

“It is three months since I last wrote to the Court and Livery and I am now setting out below the main events over that period; where I am now and going forward.

Just before Christmas I fell over on the stairs and was not able to get myself up. We called a paramedic to help and he felt I should be in hospital. I was taken to Guildford hospital and spent the Christmas period there (including my birthday on Boxing Day!). In the New Year I was able to transfer “next door” to the Nuffield hospital and had the benefit of my consultants but also the privacy of a private room. I was able to go home on New Year’s Eve and, despite the medical advice, Jackie and I shared a half bottle of champagne as the clock struck 12! Unfortunately I had to return to hospital later in January (where I stayed for 16 days). I came home on 2 February and have managed to stay at home (subject to numerous hospital appointments) ever since.

I have had good news on two of my ailments but unfortunately my walking is not good despite visits and consultations with an orthopaedic specialist and a neurologist. My tumours have shrunk to being invisible and the underlying liver disease (cirrhosis) is apparently under control. I have a consultation shortly concerning immunology treatment which is what I had planned to have in Germany; I would rather travel to Guildford periodically than to Germany. This treatment is intended to stop the regrowth of the liver tumours and also to prevent cancers arising in other parts of my body. It is a very new treatment and any side-effects are relatively unknown – watch this space!

Apart from walking everything is very positive and I have a number of very clever people trying to put that right.

A small aside - last evening, whilst getting ready to go out for a Valentine’s Dinner, I again fell over and was unable to get up. After45 minutes of trying we dialled “111”. Two hours later nothing had happened so we dialled again to be told that the earlier call had been passed to the 999 department. Although lying on the floor was very uncomfortable, we did not consider it had merited a call to “999“. Lying still on a wooden floor was very uncomfortable, but we did as we had been recommended and a further telephone call another 2 hours later then produced an ambulance in about eight minutes – it is true what they say about resources! All is well that ends well: two very burly medics got me on my feet and then stayed for over half an hour chatting about Cornwall and Wales which is where they had both been brought up. The moral being - if you wish to get help, then after midnight is best!

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If any Broderer wishes to visit a lame ex Clerk or simply have a chat please call me - although I am often away having a hospital appointment.

With all best wishes, Peter.”

Subsequent to receiving this I understand that Peter has had a stair lift installed at home, so that he is not confined to the upstairs during the day. But hospital visits continue, both planned and unplanned, with several days spent in hospital last week. He and Jackie remain very much in all of our thoughts and our Clerk and I are in regular touch.


Now some Broderer history: over the coming months, we shall all hear a lot more about the Broderers Crowns and I can do no better than reproduce below extracts from correspondence with Christopher Bellamy and David Chaundler, arising out of a visit to the Royal Collection of Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy, which is on until 15 April and an absolute “must”.

David writes: “If you visit the Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy, in Gallery VII are two large paintings by Palma Giovanni - The Triumph of David and The Conversation of St Paul. They normally now hang in the Prado in Madrid. However, they were in Charles I’s collection and after he was beheaded they were sold for £100 each (a great deal of money in those days) on 23rd October 1651 to Edmund Harrison - “our” Edmund Harrison. He was clearly a man of some substance. He gave the Edmund Harrison Cup to the Company in 1628 when he was described as, “Imbroiderer to our late Soveraigne King James deceased and unto O’Soveraigne Lord King Charles that is now 24 Janry 1628."

As the Royal Embroiderer he would almost certainly have seen the pictures in the Royal collection and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he would have bought them when put up for sale, as was most of Charles I’s collection, by the Commonwealth. Edmund Harrison died in January 1666.”

Christopher writes that “In William Holford’s book “A Chat about the Broderers” (1910) it refers at p.79 to the fact that, after the Restoration, Edmund Harrison petitioned Charles II to be reappointed the Kings Broderer, claiming that Charles I had owed him £4000, he had 21 children to support and was 70 years old. The Broderers Company apparently certified Edmund “as the ablest worker living” and attested that he had “preserved the King’s best cloth of State, and his rich carpet embroidered with pearl from being cut in pieces or burnt” and that “he restored these and many other goods to His Majesty”. Charles II apparently granted him a pension of £371 annually, although Edmund later had to sue others who also claimed to have the patent to be the Kings Embroiderer. It is not inconceivable that the pictures in the current exhibition were “among the many other goods” restored by Edmund to His Majesty, although one wonders if Charles II paid to retrieve them, or indeed settled his father’s alleged debt of £4000. Probably the Royal Archives could throw more light on this? A wonderful episode of Broderer history.”

The Clerk, Christopher and I visited the Broderers’ Crowns restoration project at Mercers’ Hall last month and I have since visited the Royal Academy. The Edmund Harrison story is so timely as our excitement is being generated by, not only the fact that both of our Crowns (one from circa 1575 and the other from circa 1610) are being repaired and restored and a replica made of the earlier one to be gifted to the Company later this year, but by the distinct probability that the first (late Tudor) Crown was once worn by John Parr when Master and the Royal Embroiderer, and the second (early Stuart) one was once worn by Edmund Harrison, also when Master and Royal Embroiderer. More anon!! (NB. Fashion note: the Crowns are too large for one’s head but are worn over the rim of a Tudor or Stuart style hat; and the replica crown will be accompanied by a replica hat to be worn by the Master at each Election meeting)


Finally, the remaining 3 months ahead and key dates for our diaries:

  • Friday 16 March - United Guilds’ Service at St Paul’s Cathedral and Luncheon at Pewterers’ Hall
  • Wednesday 11 April - Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Luncheon and charity event at the Guildhall (with BCT support and Fine Cell Work)
  • Wednesday 18 April – Consorts and Guests Livery Dinner at Mercers’ Hall – Guest Speaker: John Campbell, Dean’s Verger at Lincoln Cathedral
  • Monday 14 May – Broderers inaugural textile lecture at the Carpenters’ Hall, in association with the World Traders and Broad Street Ward club - "SECRETS OF THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY" and its modern sequel, the Alderney Bayeux Tapestry Finale (NB. The Bayeux “tapestry” is actually an embroidery!)
  • Monday 21 May – Election Day Service and Supper


And some dates for next year:

  • Wednesday 20 June – Election Dinner at Mercers’ Hall
  • Tuesday 11 September – Broderers’ Fashion Show and Reception at St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt
  • Tuesday 25 September – Court meeting and dinner – Mercers’ Hall
  • Thursday 25 October – Associated Companies Dinner – Mercers’ Hall
  • Tuesday 27 November – Court meeting and dinner – Mercers’ Hall


So, there we have it: we are growing our membership and our connections with the worlds of embroidery and fashion; we are supporting more apprenticeships and our charitable objectives; we are leading a major work stream with the textile affiliated livery companies in the Pan-Livery Philanthropy Project, initiated by the Mercers and supported by the Lord Mayor; we are discovering more history on the Company with the Crowns restoration project and awaiting our new Royal Charter; and in the process are turning the Broderers in to a modern and relevant 21st century Company, whilst having some fun and continuing to prove that we are the very best of "plain dealing fellows"!


With my thanks, in anticipation of your continuing support, and my best wishes,