Master’s Blog – July 2019

July is a busy month and  there were a number of key events in the month starting with the Innholders’ Dinner in Innholders’ Hall where the Master gave a short history of the Company that is a fellow member of the Cask Group. After all, Inns are where our products were and are sold. 

The Annual Inspection of a Distillery in London “or up to 31 miles radius from the Cities of London and Westminster” granted in our Charter was undertaken by the Master and Wardens. This year it was Hayman’s Distillery, now located in Balham and easily within the bounds set out by the Charter. The report of the visit is a separate item on the website, but suffice to say the Master and Wardens were more than satisfied with the quality of the stills and the spirit produced and presented the certificate of Inspection to PM Christopher Hayman and  Liverymen James and Miranda Hayman in a Ceremony at the Distillery witnessed by over 35 other Liverymen and guests. 

A visit to the House of Lords for drinks on the famous terrace and lunch in a room overlooking the Thames had been arranged by the Master Framework Knitter. An excellent tour which after lunch gave us the opportunity to visit both the House of Lords and the House of Commons during debates and questions. 

The Master Constructor and Master Plumber organised a day long walk around City churches which was well attended by Masters of different Livery Companies. The highlight for me was the Swordstand with the Coat of Arms of the Lord Mayor of London 1813. 

This is where the Sword of the Lord Mayor would be placed during the Sunday church service. The Lord Mayor and his entourage would visit each City Church during his tenure. 

George Scholey who was a Liveryman in the Distillers and whose Sword stand is located in St Mary Abchurch has been our only Lord Mayor to date.  Watch this space. 

The Installation Dinner for the new Master Vintner also took place this month. Christopher Davies takes over from Sir Andrew Parmley.  An excellent dinner with outstanding wines and Hine 1975 Cognac served in the Stirrup Cup.  A rare spirit. 

The Mistress and I joined the Distillers’ Car Club event, visiting Liveryman Julian Temperley in his Somerset Cider Distillery  and then staying at the very comfortable and imposing Stone Easton Hotel where on Saturday evening Liveryman Alan Montague- Dennis gave us a tutored tasting of Bollinger champagnes including Rosé Vintages. 

The Car Club Outing had been very well organised by Court Assistant Nick Carr and PM Watling and is reported separately. 

This followed a visit to the International Air Day in Yeovilton organised by the Fleet Air Arm and 825 NAS Squadron. 

Commander Duncan Thomas hosted the Mistress and myself in the VIP Enclosure which also received many visiting Senior Naval Officers and foreign dignitaries. 

The following week I was Guest Speaker at the lunch of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners held in Salters’ Hall. 
This gave me an opportunity to talk about the global spirits industry and the history of our Company and the Gin Guild. 

The same evening I had been invited to the newly restored Painted Hall in Greenwich for the dinner hosted by the Chancellor of the University of Greenwich. 

The annual dedication service for the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor took place in the Chapel of St Faith in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral for three new Knights Bachelor appointed by the HM The Queen. The Bishop of London officiated. 

The Knights wore their red cloaks and were preceded by the Sword Spurs and the Pennons bearing the heraldic Badge of the Imperial Society which are the symbols of this ancient order dating from medieval times. The word “Bachelor“ is a corruption of the French word “Bataille” as this award was often made on the Field of Battle. 

Afterwards an informal meeting with the Master and Clerk of the Marketors was held with Clive Bairsto our Development Director and myself to start planning a joint event planned for early November. More details to follow. 

That evening the Summer Dinner of the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries was held in Apothecaries’ Hall. The Master gave an amusing speech in which he warmly welcomed the Distillers’ Master and Mistress and said that any past ill feeling concerning our break away from the Apothecaries has now been (mostly) forgotten. 

The Sheriffs organised a tour and dinner at the Old Bailey one evening which many Masters and Mistresses attended. The tour included stepping into a cold stark cell. Not a place where you would want to spend a lot of time. 

No prisoner is held there overnight and so if you accidentally lock yourself inside the keys are held some distance away and you would be spending the night in solitary confinement. Fortunately this did not happen and the dinner took place under the impressive dome of the Hall of the Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court). 

The annual summer event of the Brigantes – the Association of London Liverymen with Northern connections – took place in Manchester at the impressive Victorian Whitworth Hall situated within the University  of Manchester. 400 people attended. 

Rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire Liveryman was briefly put to one side and the War of the Roses forgotten (Lancashire won) as the Brigantes come from all regions of the North of England. 

Yorkshire was represented by Sir David Wooton and Lancashire by Dr Sir Andrew Parmley, both of whom had been recent Lord Mayors of London. The current Lord Mayor Peter Estlin and both Sheriffs were also present. 

After their respective witty speeches which extolled the virtues and superiority of each of their counties, there followed a highly symbolic gesture in which the white rose of Yorkshire worn by Sir David was exchanged with the red rose worn by Sir Andrew. 

Sir Andrew had entertained us on the organ and played for the Sung Grace and National Anthem for which a bottle of Master’s Cask Whisky was given by our Company as a mark of our gratitude. 

The month ended with the IWSC Medal Winners Tasting at Vintners’ Hall. This event is eagerly awaited by our Liverymen and Masters of other Companies and is reported separately on the website. 

Thanks to Court Assistant Allen Gibbons for organising this so professionally with the help of Liveryman and Assistant Clerk Kim Lyons. 

The Fleet Air Arm Wildcat Helicopter Wings Parade at 825 Naval Air Squadron in Yeovilton rounded off the month very well where with PM Raines and Cheesman, and accompanied by Liveryman Ewan Lacey who is our Liaison Officer with the Squadron, we were invited to participate in this very important day. 

6 Naval airmen received their Flying Badges “ Wings “ from the Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd as they graduated the Wildcat helicopter Course 3 as Observers and 3 as Pilots. This ceremony took place in front of their family members, friends and colleagues and was followed by a Flying Display. 

I was honoured to present the Distillers prize for the LAET (Leading Air Engineering Technician) who had achieved the strongest result for Certificate of Competence to supervise aircraft maintenance. 

I also presented a signed and framed Memorandum of Understanding to Commanding Officer Duncan Thomas which both of us had signed.It will cement the relationship between 825 NAS and our Company and which will hang in pride of place in their Mess on the base in Yeovilton.”