Master's Blog 2016-2017

Election Day Mercers’ Hall 16 May 2016

(Photos to come)

Masters’ visit Ironbridge 10-12 June 2016




Election Dinner – Mercers’ Hall 15 June 2016

  The Election Dinner this year was held at Mercers’ Hall on Wed 15 Jun. My guest was Dr David Hill, a notable choral conductor, formerly of Westminster and Winchester cathedrals, where I knew him, and whose present appointments include Chief Conductor of The BBC Singers, Musical Director of The Bach Choir and Principal Conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum at Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He did not disappoint us and delivered an intriguing and amusing eulogy on the interwoven mysteries of the Christian faith, art, architecture, music and embroidery. This included a spontaneous reminder of the Morcambe and Wise sketch with ‘Andrew Preview’ (André Previn).

  The dinner was well attended, with other guests including the Upper Bailiff of the Weavers, Prime Warden of the Shipwrights and Cdr Roger Kennedy, CO of 849 Naval Air Squadron, our RN affiliation. The excellent menu reminds us how privileged we are to enjoy these occasions and how rewarding it is to share them with as many guests as possible. Not only do they enhance proceedings enormously but it does much to promote the good nature and reputation of the Company. We were entertained superbly by a trio from the Guildhall School of Music including a beguiling rendition of the Flower Song from Carmen and sublime trio Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte.

Mistress competes in Livery Go Kart Grand Prix at Sandown Park 12 June 2016


City Church Walk 20 July 2016


Master and Clerk meet 849 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose Air Day 28 July 2016

Clerk          Lt Cdr Chris Hughes CO          Master          Cdr Roger Kennedy (previous CO)

Portsmouth Visit – 13 September 2016

  Drawing upon nautical threads, it seemed appropriate to pay a visit to the Overlord Embroidery at Southsea, suggested to us some time ago by liveryman Peter Wyles. So we built a programme around this which included the Mary Rose, recently uncovered from her protective screen for the first time as part of the preservation programme. This was predictably mind blowing, presented in its new format, and we could have spent the whole day just enjoying this alone. However, after an efficient lunch break at the Midships Restaurant in Boathouse No 4, we looked in to the National Museum of the Royal Navy where the curator had pulled out the stops for us with a special exhibition of embroidery which they had put together for the occasion. This consisted of a number of hitherto unseen pieces to align with our specialist interest, including a ball dress hand stitched by Emma Hamilton to celebrate Nelson’s 30th birthday, some stunning epaulettes, a very old Royal Marine banner, the first Jolly Roger(?!) and a highly ornamented pair of slipper boots made by one to the contemporary officers. We were privileged to be joined by the Director General Prof Dominic Tweddle and we are indeed indebted to them for hosting us so generously.

Embroidery Exhibits at the National Museum of the Royal Navy

  It would have been difficult to eclipse the Overlord Embroidery, however, so we embarked on our bus punctually and arrived at the D-Day museum at 3.30pm as planned. Here we were greeted warmly by the Development Officer Andrew Whitmarsh and the Museum staff, and they and liveryman Liz Elvin kindly saw to it that we made the most of the time we had left. Liz had presided over the team who had constructed this magnificent piece over 45 years ago – 83m (272ft) long in 34 panels, each almost a metre high (3ft). Inspired by the Bayeux tapestry, over 50 different materials were used, including some of the original uniforms, all using appliqué to depict paintings from 1940 to the Normandy landings in 1944. Meanwhile Cdr Jon Riches, a friend of mine, gave us an enhanced tour of the rest of the Museum, having led many battlefield tours of the area when they lived in France.

  After a quick wash and brush up at the Royal Maritime Club, by kind permission of the Manager John Alderson, we spent the evening in the Hampshire countryside at the Master’s home surrounded by horses and fields, beneath Old Winchester Hill, in the setting sun and continuing to enjoy the mercifully good weather. Drinks were followed by dinner in the Rat House, a converted barn. The main party having travelled down by coach from London, proceedings finished promptly to allow trains to be caught and the busmen to return whence they came at a reasonable hour. We have to admit that the classic “modern” embroidery was an experience we will not forget, and an important complement to our heritage as Broderers, which we may sometimes be tempted to think is restricted to ancient skills.

Master and Mistress Bo Peep exercise their rights on London Bridge (25 September 2016)


Associated Companies Dinner – HMS President 19 October 2016

  With the Maritime Heritage of the Lord Mayor Lord Mountevans who is a Trustee of Seafarers UK, President of the City of London Sea Cadets and past Prime Warden of the Shipwrights, and my more modest naval pedigree, here we were but two days before the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October.

  This year’s Associated Companies’ Dinner therefore took the form of a Royal Navy Trafalgar Night, to introduce the Livery to something of our naval traditions, and HMS President (home of the London RN Reserve) did us proud. A twelve strong carpet guard from TS Caprice of Bexley and Lewisham Sea Cadets lined the entrances from the door to the Wardroom, greeting my principal guest Adm Sir Jock Slater KCB DL in full uniform by piping him aboard. In turn, Sir Jock spoke to everyone of the Sea Cadets personally and even played the bosun’s call of the piper on the way into dinner! It is a mark of this great man that he should take the trouble to do this and go on to deliver one of the most amusing Trafalgar Night speeches I have ever heard, much to the delight of all the guests.

  Overlooking the River Thames, HMS President’s unique surroundings gave the dinner all the atmosphere we could have wished. Our company was not devoid of military presence as guests included RAdm Andrew Gough former Secretary General of the Order of St John, Cdr Robin Kent, Sea Harrier pilot in Falklands, now psychologist in Veterans Outreach Support the charity Drop-In I helped to set up in Portsmouth, Cdr James Nisbet London Area Officer for the Marine Society and Sea Cadets, and Lt Jane Snoswell representing the CO HMS President, who is also a keen embroiderer. The Royal Irish Regiment were represented by Maj Marc Barrow and WO2 Peter Keogh MC but sadly no one from 849 Naval Air Squadron could attend because of a short notice deployment.

  We had a full team from the Associated Companies including from the Mercers Master Jonny Robertson, House Warden Xenia Dennen, Renter Warden Mark Aspinall, Upper Warden Roddy Graham and Clerk Rob Abernethy: from the Masons Master Nick Payne, Upper Warden Andrew Bowles and Clerk Maj Giles Clapp and from the Cooks Master Don Hodgson, Second Master Michael Thatcher, Renter Warden Lt Col Marcus Appleton and Clerk VAdm Peter Wilkinson. Also present were Master Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers Robert Lampitt and his Clerk Cdr Robin House, and there was a special welcome to three prominent members of today’s embroidery world, David Gazeley Art Director of Watts & Co, Katy Emck CEO of Fine Cell Work and Claire Barrett Embroidery designer and Director of Hawthorne & Heaney.

  The first courses of the excellent nautical menu were followed by traditional flaming galleons (in fact chocolate mousse clad in beams of chocolate oak and aflame with sparklers) paraded in line by the staff of Cook and Butler.

  Musical entertainment was produced again by the superb soloists we had at the Election Dinner but this time to a distinctly maritime theme: Drake’s Drum, Sea Fever, a song from Carousel and Rule Britannia. Joining in the chorus was only the warm up, however, because everyone then had to sing for their supper, not just the Master this time – Heart of Oak and The Drunken Sailor. Even those who were not concert mariners seemed to appreciate the novelty, but the highlight of the evening has to go to Sir Jock.

St Paul’s Garden of Remembrance 7 November 2016

Spouses Visit – Royal Mews 15 November 2016

  Not to be outdone by her nautical husband, my Mistress was delighted to be able to lead a visit to the Royal Mews, kindly facilitated by Past Master Gordon Birdwood through the Crown Equerry Col Toby Browne.

  A party of spouses and guests were accompanied by a few liverymen, there being a few spaces left, and some 25 had their eyes opened to the Transport of State, horses, cars and of course the magnificent carriages for which England is renowned. What we had not expected, nor is on offer to the general public, was a guided tour by the Head Coachman and his staff, which included the livery of the riders and the “tack” of the horses, both of challenging weight and disarming splendour – a single livery tunic for a mounted rider being worth some £60k.



  It was a mouth-watering display which we were privileged to enjoy at Her Majesty’s pleasure and we made an appropriate donation to their favourite charity The Horse Trust in gratitude – this provides for the welfare of horses that have retired from service. Afterwards we adjourned to the Rubens Hotel immediately opposite for an informal but no less enjoyable dinner, no seating plan, abundant sustenance and a thoroughly fitting end to the day.

Granddaughter Clemmie Mosse meets the Lord Mayor at his Christmas Party (7 January 2017)

V&A Private Viewing – Opus Anglicanum 10 January 2017

  After our visit to the Overlord Embroidery, it was most fortuitous that the Opus Anglicanum (English work) exhibition at the V&A Museum should happen in the same year. Open Oct 16 – Feb 17, this was the largest embroidery exhibition of its kind for over 50 years, and was a signature dish for the Broderers by any account, consisting of priceless pieces from 12th-15th century. The dialogue between Peter Lumley Chairman of the Broderers Charity Trust and Peter Burgess Grants Manager of the V&A over sponsorship was mutually beneficial and raised the profile of the Broderers considerably, but the ensuing private viewing was a special treat. A major donor to the Trust for this project was the Helen Hamlyn Trust and we were delighted that Lady Hamlyn herself was also able to join us for the evening.

  With a welcoming glass of wine to get us going, we had an excellent introduction by Glyn Davies, one of the curators, before an hour or so looking at the exhibition. We were not disappointed: Glyn and his colleague Clare Browne were on hand to answer questions throughout, liverymen Liz Elvin and Isobel Lattimore were also able to offer expert commentary on technical aspects. The embroideries themselves defy description they were so priceless and the exhibition was full of information about them from their superb presentation. One of the highlights has to be the ‘Tree of Jesse’ cope, ca. 1295-1315 which was purchased by the V & A in 1954 with funding assistance from the Broderers and which our financial support this time allowed them to present in full glory for the exhibition.

Curator Glyn Davies introduces Opus Anglicanum at the V&A (By kind permission of the V&A Museum)

The Tree of Jesse cope in the foreground (front left) (By kind permission of the V&A Museum)

  Perhaps as impressive was the list of guests attending, including several involved in the embroidery business, a highly capable art restorer, Masters and representatives of five other related livery companies (Weavers, Framework Knitters, Needlemakers, Upholders, Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers), Cooks and Masons. It was indeed a remarkable evening with 85 visitors in all, and expertly martialled by liveryman Sean Bonnington and the Clerk. At about 8.30 some 50 of us adjourned to the Rembrandt Hotel for dinner, adopting the Rubens model again, no seating plan, excellent Carvery, as much as we could (possibly) eat and very good value!

St Valentine’s Night – Tallow Chandlers’ Hall 16 February 2017

  This year’s Ladies’ Night was held at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall as a St Valentine’s dinner, to recognise the contribution made by all the ladies, both in the Livery and keeping the fires burning at home. Tallow Chandlers’ is one of the oldest halls in London being undamaged by the Blitz and beautifully adorned with both its architecture and paintings. The evening was as well adorned too by ladies in their finery, much embroidered to honour the occasion, and delightful music from the Guildhall again by the now familiar team, Elizabeth Karani (Sop), Charlotte King (Mezzo), Chris Cull (Bass/baritone) and Iwan Davies (Piano). I was thrilled they could come again, this time with songs from Les Mis, The Phantom of the Opera and Oklahoma (People Will Say We're in Love), ending with my favourite (again!), the trio Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte. There is much competition in the world of opera but I have a feeling this will not be the last we hear of them.

  My principal guest was Maj Gen Peter Currie CB CBE who after a full Army career was Lieutenant Governor (CEO) of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners and Chairman of Combat Stress. Combat Stress is close to my heart being an integral part Veterans Outreach Support, being also begun by Dr Morgan O’Connell who was the first Medical Director of Combat Stress. His speech was suitably light hearted but nevertheless struck a serious chord or two when it came to the need for institutional change.

  While numbers were modest being half term, the Hall can offer all the intimacy one could wish and the evening indeed did justice to those magnificent surroundings. While it was sad this was my swan song, things could not have run more smoothly. The dinner itself was excellent and I was most grateful to the Clerk (Renter Warden) for pulling it all together so well, in a busy livery year and looking ahead to a new Clerk to succeed him in May when he is due to become Warden. I also paid tribute to Jane Bishop who was about to leave and had worked faithfully for the Broderers and many Masters in Peter’s office.


Epilogue I leave a short poem that appeared in my St Valentine’s speech, with apologies to Jennifer Wren:

‘You must have been a sailor,’ They declare with a know-all air,
Every time I knot a bow tie with my customary care.
It irks me, I can tell you, this mentality so threadbare,
Which assumes one must go boating to be able to tie knot ware.

Like the trawlermen at sea, knot-tying mariners aren’t rare;
But knots (and stitch) thrive on terra firma too, from the Falklands to Finisterre.
On land in every region, be it Overlord or Bayeux,
There are those who practice knotting with accomplished savoir faire.

In Chad, Chile and China, in London too its clear,
In Vietnam and the Vatican, they’re knot-adept, I swear.
Many an ardent knottologist (as I am sure you are aware)
Lives out his lubberly life on land, and acquires all his knotting there.

So I rebut the slander, that would brand me all bêche-de-mer,
I learnt my knots from a Royal School just like a Broderer.
But as Master and Commander if these threads you must compare,
I must confess the knots have won, for no stitch to show is there.

Cdr Peter J Mosse RN
Master 2016 - 2017