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April Court & Livery Dinner

On Thursday 25th April, members of the Court and Livery, and their guests, gathered at Apothecaries’ Hall for our spring dinner.

After a very jolly reception, during which Henriot Brut Champagne, Cotswolds Dry Gin and Whyte & Mackay 13 YO were served, our Beadle Jeremy Smith gavelled up and the assembled throng moved slowly through to the splendid 17th century dining hall. After an amusing grace by our new honorary chaplain, the Reverend James Titley, we had a slight false start where we thought the loving cup would be making an early appearance – before the first mouthful! The cup was saved for later, everyone sat down and the feasting commenced.

We were treated to a delicious starter of London cured smoked salmon, potato and watercress blinis, sauce gribiche, accompanied by a refreshing and crisp Marc Brédif Vouvray 2022. A hearty main course of Fillet of Cambrian venison, king oyster mushroom and botanical jus followed, accompanied by a robust Australian red, Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – which we continued to enjoy whilst we moved onto the savoury course of London ale rarebit, parsley and London sour dough. For some reason, the pudding published on the menu – Chocolate delice, orange compote, espresso ice cream – did not materialise and the délice that was served was a slice and not a chocolate disc; whilst it was good, it was not what we had tasted and chosen! This course was accompanied by a delicious Bizoe Tiny Semillon Noble Late Harvest Rikus Neethling  37.5cl Western Cape 2017.

The real Loving Cup ceremony followed, after which we settled down to listen to speeches from Alison Gowman, Alderman for the Ward of Dowgate and then the Master. Alderman Gowman gave us an update on City charitable giving and also the Green Finance Initiative, which she has so famously championed. She also gave a generous tribute to our outgoing Clerk, Edward Macey-Dare (who had stepped down at the Court meeting that afternoon, after 15 years’ service) as they had worked together on the 375th anniversary dinner at Middle Temple Hall in 2013 (when she had been Master Glover), during which he had managed to incorporate Charles II’s grace, which sadly she did not attempt to sing, but nonetheless proceeded to recite, as follows: “Here’s a health unto His Majesty,With a fa la la la la la la, Confusion to his enemies, With a fa la la la la la la. And he who would not drink his health, We wish him neither wit nor wealth, Nor yet a rope to hang himself. With a fal lal la la la la la la la la, With a fal lal la la la la la.”

The Master followed, introducing our new Steward, new Company Freemen and new Liverymen, before himself paying tribute to the outgoing Clerk – which prompted an immediate standing ovation – and introducing the new Clerk, Mr. James Bryan. He then concluded by informing the guests that the Assistant Clerk, Kim Lyons, was also retiring at the end of November – and everyone was back on their feet again!

All in all, an excellent evening, and one which marked the end of an era – 3 successive generations of partners in the law firm Monier-Williams having clerked for the company for a total of 69 continuous years (corresponding exactly to our number in the Order of Precedence). It was thus most fitting to find ourselves back at the Apothecaries (the Society from which we had splintered off in 1638) on this momentous occasion – and, indeed, to use this event to publicise the Company’s updated history, which seeks to build on the existing history published in 1996 by chronicling the numerous achievements of the past c.30 years (to include the fully scored Distillers’ Song written by the outgoing Clerk, entitled: Good Heart!).