Our Spring Livery Dinner was unashamedly a celebration of the Company’s association with its historic trade.
Martin Drury CBE was my principal guest and was Chief Executive of the National Trust when Uppark, the handsome property on the South Downs, was nearly lost after a disastrous fire just hours before its reopening to the public. In defiance of the prevailing mood at the time, the Georgian plasterwork ceilings were recreated to the delight of all, in part with the skills of firms who are represented in today’s membership of our Company. We also celebrated the achievements of Esme Walker, our first sponsored apprentice with The Prince’s Foundation, and admitted her to the Freedom.
In her capacity as Mistress, Sara also presented Jon Riley with a marzipan sweetmeat created from a plaster mould supplied by Locker & Riley. At her recent Mistress’ event the food historian Tasha Marks had spoken about the use of sugar as decorative art followed by a lunch where sweetmeats had formed the centrepiece of each table. The menu comprised dishes from notable dates in our Company’s history – in the case of sweetmeats, 1666; Sole Veronique from 1972, when our Hall reopened, was also a particular hit with the guests who were drawn from over 50 Companies.
In a much appreciated coda to the Livery Dinner, another guest, and another CBE, Marcus Binney, the celebrated writer and saviour of numerous historic buildings, exclaimed on the splendours of our Hall to the assembled guests quoting what Pevsner had to say. Marcus’ intervention may have been impromptu but all the more welcome for it as an antidote to the sometimes predictable routine of our dinners.