Monday, 6 May 2013
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
|The 'stalwart consort' Ann|
descends the Grand Staircase
- à la Rebecca? -
I am a dinosaur with regard to sending photographs or anything else to anyone via computer. My son will be back next weekend and I will get him to see if he can do something for me. Meanwhile I attach a couple of pictures from the Letchwoth outing. They were so delightful that I felt that we should all share them.
The Banquet was marvellous, I got to sit by the Sheriff and admire his knee britches and wig bag - let alone all that lace!!! Had a wonderful time, I do enjoy all that air kissing.
But, to continue, Sam and I saw Mervyn and his guests off in a most decorous manner and then retired to the Booking Office Bar at St Pancras. Several double amaretto's later we decided to climb the three storey Grand Staircase designed by Gilbert Scott - the sign stating 'Guests Only past this point' having been set aside by my escort (and then he refused to replace it when we staggered back down as well!) - I decided that it really was time to return to my hotel. I don't think that we sang bawdy songs on the way back, and it was lucky that the bar in my hotel closed at 1.30 am or we may have continued carousing the night away, but I am sure that everyone can understand that looking after my granddaughter the next day was somewhat of a trial by flashing lights.
I have known Sam since before he was born but the looks we got on entering the bar in full evening gear were well worth the wait for him to grow up.
Looking forward to the next event - a luncheon and a trip to the HMS Wellington - Mervyn is letting me out all on my own again!!! Watch this space.
|Stalwart Ann's pictures...|
Ann, the ever Stalwart Consort
Sunday, 31 March 2013
MON 11 March was the Modern Companies Dinner at Insurance Hall, one of the best such I have attended. Good food and good company. The principal guest was Sherriff Nigel Pullman, who unburdened his soul about the difficulties in obtaining suitable tights for the Shrieval Formal Dress (which he will be wearing at the WCCA Banquet: Modern Companies being ‘informal’ ie. Black Tie). This was an introduction to the heaviest schedule for a week so far. On Tuesday I was let off so drove to Northampton for an evening of planning CPD; mercifully the snow was light. On WED 13 the Vintners’ Company celebrated the 650th Anniversary of their first Royal Charter with Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral, followed by a Reception at the nearby St Paul’s Grange Hotel. I’m running out of epithets for St Pauls: suffice it to say that the usual high standard was maintained, and that this was A1 on the scale of importance, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (in substitution it was said for The Queen, who was in hospital for two days). The Reception was not a comfortable affair, with the cloakroom facilities overwhelmed so much that we had to stand outside in the cold for 20 minutes, and then made our way into the sub-basement to a vast room with acoustics so poor that I found it difficult to converse. The Vintners didn’t stint: Tattinger champagne flowed freely, but I had to be wary of driving the seven miles home from Letchworth station.
Next day THU 14 I put some serious thought into avoiding over imbibing when driving. It all started well as I left my car at a friend’s house in Letchworth, white tie and tails ‘neath my black overcoat. I arrived outside The Mansion House in good time for THE LORD MAYOR’s BANQUET FOR MASTERS. Ann arrived and we made our way through security into the Crush Lobby, which was heaving. I queued for the Cloakroom, while Ann changed in the Ladies. Many familiar faces were greeted. Then Ann had to insert herself in the Cloakroom queue, which had grown (she’s very good at that and nobody ever seems to mind). David and Mary Cole-Adams passed and joined the queue for the stairs and reception, which was very long – we never saw them again. Then we inserted ourselves in the queue, and slowly progressed to be received by The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and Nigel Pullman, again. Then into one of the heaving ante-rooms before being summoned to take our seats in the Egyptian Hall for the Banquet. From then on it was Cloud Nine, pageantry, the Pikemen on guard, brazen fanfares and the mix of the slightly absurd by the hand of tradition. The speeches were serious, and in the case of the Master Grocer reminiscent of bygone attitudes. The timing was somewhat awry, and as we were seated close to the doors, we refused a stirrup cup, and made our way to the cloakrooms (blissfully uncrowded). I hailed a taxi outside the front on The Mansion House (never before achieved and relieving Ann of a long cold walk to Moorgate – but that’s another story) and off we set for our respective termini. I hopped out at King’s Cross just in time for the 10.45, only to find all through trains to the Cambridge branch cancelled due to emergency trackwork. A slow train terminating in Stevenage didn’t connect with the announced substitute buses, so I took a £40 taxi ride home, worth every penny on a freezing night.
On FRI: 15, I clocked up a threesome (in the best possible taste). Happily the travel plan – minibus to Ashwell Station for the 0718 to King’s Cross worked like a dream, and in good time I strode confidently from Faringdon Station to Stationers’ Hall for Chester Boyd’s Champagne Breakfast. This is really a hard sell to Clerks (I was Ian’s guest) for the Caterer and the Hall. It was one of the best such I have been to, a good quality breakfast, with a witty and informative talk from one of the best known wine correspondents (so well known that his name escapes me as I recall the event two weeks later) about changes in the wine trade and drinking habits over the past 30 years. We have all become more sophisticated in our tastes – I am old enough to remember the days of Blue Nun, Piat d’Or and Mateus Rose 50 years ago – without regret. St Paul’s again for the UNITED GUILDS SERVICE, only the big 12 and selected younger Companies process. Finally, a decent Lunch at Plaisterers Hall rounded off the day.
MON 18 hotfoot to Basketry Arts, Dutch Church, 11.30 for demonstration and buffet lunch. As with the Turners’ Wizardry in Wood, this was a craft display and sales opportunity: I acquired an elegant, robust and hopefully cat-proof waste paper basket, and nibbled on the buffet, chatting to Gillian Scahill, wife of the Master Engineer, who had been called to the launch of the Queen’s Prize for Engineering, billed as the Nobel Prize for invention. Then I discovered that my new, warm, black woollen overcoat had been purloined from the unattended cloakroom (and a worn one of a different size was left next to where mine had been hung). Mercifully I had left nothing in the pockets – at least I still had the scarf and hat that I had placed in my bag, but after having reported the matter, I hurried along Austin Friars through the freezing drizzle, clutching the basket to my bosom and gritted my teeth for the 1/3 mile walk to the car from Letchworth Station at the other end. The Basketmakers Company emailed all the companies they had invited to the event, but 10 days later nobody had reported taking the wrong coat (which there had been ample time to discover) and the Dutch Church still held the other coat (which nobody had bothered to claim). I can only conclude that the disappearance of my coat had been opportunistic theft. Checking people in and out of the event had been hit and miss. I hope that a Liveryman was not responsible: even so it leaves a bitter taste.
By sheer coincidence, my next event on THU 21 took me back to Austin Friars for the Furniture Makers’ 50th Anniversary Court Dinner at Furniture Hall, opposite the Dutch Church. John and Sylvia Reid, architects who were active in the Furniture Makers Company in its early years were founders of WCCA, and Sylvia was our first Lady Master in 1996, and more recently we had held joint Carol Services. The Hall resulted from a purchase in a fine Edwardian Building, and was aptly scaled for a dinner of 35, with a menu which included the best venison I can recall. It was a very pleasant occasion, intimate enough to engage in conversation, and I left with a feeling of warmth and bonhomie. Then the curse of Austin Friars struck again! The bitter wind caused me hastily to reach into my bag for the hat with earflaps, and in so doing I dislodged my spectacles. Actually I heard a noise, and looked downwards – Austin Friars is not well lit and I didn’t see anything obvious, and only discovered the loss of specs when I reached home. Not perhaps too disastrous since they were from the eye test before the last, after which the strength was increased, but I had always liked those half frames….
March ended on the highest possible note (C in altississimo, only audible to a passing bat!) On TUE 26 the WCCA Banquet was held at Carpenters Hall. Ian had planned everything meticulously – the order of procedure, timed down to the last minute is attached. However, it was up to me to match up to this. My driver, Lee, collected me and 2 guests – the Murrays, Sheila had been my PA/ Secretary for 21 years – and we reached Carpenters’ Hall spot on 18.00. My son Sam had travelled from Yorkshire that afternoon and was staying at the St Pancras Hotel. He collected Ann from her hotel and they too arrived on time. Ann was wearing a very becoming dark red gown which emphasised her trim figure. We posed for official photographs before the Reception. The Orpington Sea Cadets in their smart sailor suits provided the ‘carpet guard’ at the foot of the steps (a first at this event). Not that anybody would have stood much chance of making away with the carpet, given the eagle eyes of the Carpenter’s Beadle who seemed to be fussing around. The Reception line assembled, with Wardens and ladies, and the gladhanding and greeting went like clockwork. My personal guests included family and friends from schooldays in 1953 and professional colleagues. Livery support was excellent: the lesser number 122 reflected the omission of winners from the Company’s architecture award (which had not run this year due to lack of entries) and the ‘outmess’ support of Aldermanic guests: Sherriff Nigel Pullman was out top level guest who came ‘unencumbered’. Photographs were hurriedly taken with Guest Masters, then the procession into the hall, to the strains of ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’ – I had suggested tongue-in-cheek that it be played ‘with irony’.
Carpenters’ Hall grows on me. Its exterior is late 19th century classical with an arcaded front and Corinthian columns to London Wall (1876-80 by W. W. Pocock). The interiors were reworked after gutting by firebombing in 1941 which ignited the gas main in London Wall. Whinney, Son and Austen Hall redesigned the restoration in 1956-60, who including the stark bridge over Throgmorton Avenue to contain the extended hall, which includes at least 18 varieties of timber. The interior of the hall was by Clifford Weardon of Basil Spence’s practice. As I mused on the hall, sympathetically lit with modern glass candle holders on the tables and dimmed ceiling lights, I noted a family resemblance of the ceiling to the contemporary treatment at the new Coventry Cathedral). The Loving Cups followed the dinner: I set two on their way and others came up the centre spring towards me. The Royal toasts followed, and a short comfort break, during which the musicians strutted their stuff. Liam Dunachie from the Guildhall School of Music had brought a Jazz Quartet. I had requested Fats Waller’s ‘Aint Misbehavin’ and Duke Ellington’s ‘Take the A Train’ and boy were they good! Rather than have a string quartet (which many may have expected of me) I decided, on the strength of hearing Liam and his colleagues at Plaisterers’ Hall in January that they would create a relaxed mood at the Banquet, midst the formality.
Then Jaki Howes, Upper Warden, gave a potted history of the hall in her Civic Toast, when she also welcomed Sherriff Nigel Pullman, with a passing reference to ‘stockings’ (‘men in tights’ are not confined to 1930s Hollywood and Errol Flynn as Robin Hood: they flourish to this day among the City of London Shrievalty). It was now time for the ceremonial welcome and Toast to the Company Guests. My speech included the tribulations of public speaking without the visual aids which usually drive my presentations. It is reproduced below, and was well received. In reply, John Burton, surveyor to the fabric of Canterbury Cathedral, made a brilliant concise speech: on hearing his title an American guest at a formal dinner had replied that he too was ‘big in drapes’. John emphasised the need to recognise the contribution of crafts to the continued cherishing of our architectural heritage. His Toast, on behalf of the Guests, to the Company, coupled with the Master –‘may they flourish root and branch’ left me alone seated, almost as patriarch of an extended family (which is what the Livery is in extended sense). In reply, my final utterance, all I could say was that this had been one of the highlights of my life that I knew would not recur, thank all for their support and presence, and invite them to take a Stirrup Cup.
I have since learned that as I and the Murrays were driven back to Ashwell that an extended Stirrup Cup Italiano was taken at St Pancras Hotel: I’ll leave it to Ann to add further comment.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
A short movie of incredible carving!
|a swagwork detail|
|the 'Augustus Panel' carved by Shane Raven|
|The Master Carpenter 1604, 1605 and 1616; Richard Wyatt|
|The gates to Carpenters' Hall|
The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects
ANNUAL LIVERY BANQUET TO BE HELD AT CARPENTERS’ HALL
TUESDAY 26th MARCH 2013
GUESTS OF THE COMPANY
Sheriff Nigel Pullman
The Master of the Tylers and Bricklayers - Mr. David Cole Adams, and Mary Cole Adams
The Master the Chartered Surveyors - Mr. Roger Southam, and Miss Roberta Anderson
The Master of the Engineers’ Company - Mr David Scahill and Mrs. Gillian Scahill
Mr John Burton and Mrs Sally Burton - Surveyor to the Fabric of Canterbury Cathedral and Surveyor Emeritus of Westminster Abbey
PO (SCC) Andrew Lawson - 1st Lieutenant Orpington Sea Cadets
The Rev'd Michael Skinner - Orpington Sea Cadets Chairman of Unit Management Committee
ORDER OF PROCEDURE
18.00 The designated Assistant / Stewards to assist with placement of table plans, place cards and menu cards in the Reception Gallery.
Master, Consort, Wardens, Partners to prepare for robing and photographs.
18.15 Orpington Sea Cadets to be introduced to the Master and Wardens
18.20 Master, Wardens, Clerk and Stewards (David Penning, Chris Bicknell, Rosemary Curry) will be robed by the Beadle to the Company (David Wylie). Photographs of the Master, the Wardens and Ladies to be taken at this stage Court Room including Orpington Sea Cadets
18.30 Sea Cadets to be formed up at base of stair.
18.35 The Musicians commence playing in the Upper Reception area
The Master, Wardens and their Ladies will form the reception line at the top of the stairs and will remain in place until 19.15.
Members of the Company and Guests to arrive at the Hall. Copies of the table plan will be available from a table in the Hall Reception – a Steward will be in attendance.
Members and Guests will be directed to the Reception area for pre-dinner drinks. Guests of the Company (listed above will be directed to the rear of the Reception Room with their designated ‘hosts’.
The following members of the Court and Stewards are asked to ‘hover’ to meet the Company guests after they have been received and to take them with their ladies into the Court Room to entertain them prior to dinner. The gowned Stewards will ensure that each Company guest is met by their ‘host’.
Sheriff Nigel Pulman - Past Master Alan Downing
The Master of the Tylers and Bricklayers and Lady - Assistant Howard Copping
The Master of the Chartered Surveyors - Assistant Tom Ball
The Master of the Engineers - Assistant Sandra Papworth
The Master of the Constructors - Deputy Master Edward King
Mr John Burton and Mrs Sally Burton - Past Master Roger France
PO (SCC) Andrew Lawson and The Rev'd Michael Skinner - Stephen Wagstaffe
17.10 Clerk to await the arrival of the Sheriff and bring him to the reception Line.
19.15 The Beadle announces in Drawing Room: ‘Master, Wardens, Sheriff, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dinner is served – would all Members of the Company and guests not in the procession please proceed to take your places in the Hall. The Company guests, other than those in the procession, are to be escorted to where the photographer will take photographs of the Master’s Guests and then should proceed to the Hall.
The Musicians will move into the Dining Room and continue playing
19.20 The Master is to be photographed with his fellow Masters. Then, Masters are to be escorted to their places by their ‘hosts’.
19.20 Photographs are taken of the Master, Wardens and the Principal Guests and their ladies and the Clerk in the Reception Room. The Company guests, other than those in the procession, are to be escorted to their places by their ‘hosts’.
19.25 The Beadle will form up the procession in the order below and then the Master, Principal Guests and Wardens process to the Great Hall as follows:
The Master Sherriff Nigel Pullman
John Burton Mrs Ann Yorke
The Upper Warden Mrs Sally Burton
The Renter Warden Mrs. Ann Purves
The Junior Warden The Clerk
When the Liverymen and the guests are in their places, The Beadle will announce: “Liverymen, Ladies and Gentlemen please receive the Master, Wardens, and their Ladies and your Principal Guests”
The Musician strike up” See the Conquering Hero Comes” and the Master and Principal Guests enter the Livery Hall and proceed to the top table – the gentlemen taking their escorts to their places before standing by their own seats. The Junior and Renter Wardens and the Clerk will drop off the procession at their respective places
The Musicians leave
The Beadle announces Grace which will be called for by the MASTER. At this stage the Beadle will take the Master’s gown and re-fix the chain prior to collecting other gowns (which their occupants will remove) – the Upper Warden’s from the top table, the others from tail gunner positions.
Dinner is served (approximately 1 hour 40 minutes for the meal). The musician will NOT play background music during the meal.
21.10 Grace – Laudi Spirituali, will be announced by the Beadle – “Wardens, Sheriff, Masters, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Master invites you to stand and join in singing of Grace.” With Piano Accompaniment.
21.15 The Loving Cup: The Beadle will announce “The Master and Wardens of this Worshipful Company drink to you in a Loving Cup and bid you all a hearty welcome”. During this ceremony there will be background musical accompaniment by musicians
Note for the Master: two loving cups will be brought to the Master’s position at the top table. Following the Beadle’s announcement he will rise, take the cup on his right, turn to the person on his right to start off the ceremony. Once the person on is right has turned away, the Master will take up the cup to the left and repeat the process in that direction. He will then guard the back of the person to his left until he/she passes the cup on. Then he will resume his seat.
Note for those who sit at the ends of sprigs: You should take your cue from the Clerk who will stand when the Master has started both cups on the top table. They should prime the persons on either side of them to rise. The ‘tail gunner’ will drink first, the neighbour to his left having raised the lid of the cup. The neighbour on the right will stand with his / her back to the drinker. The cup will then be passed up the left hand side of the table. The passing of the cup and the raising of the lid should be done with considerable élan and such bows and curtsies as are appropriate.
21.25 Port is served
21.30 The Beadle will gavel
The Master rises and, leaving his glass on the table, when all is quiet gives the toast: (NB)
All rise. The first verse of the National Anthem will be sung accompanied by the musician PIANO.
The toast is drunk - All sit
The Beadle will gavel
The Master rises and, leaving his glass on the table when all is quiet, gives the toast:
“THE PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH, THE PRINCE OF WALES, THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY”
All rise. A half verse of the National Anthem will be played but not sung.
The toast is drunk - All sit.
21.35 Coffee and petits fours will then be served.
The Beadle Gavels for the Master. The Master announces that there will be a musical interlude. The Master thanks the musicians for their entertainment and states that they are students at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and that they appear by kind permission of the Principal.
There will be a comfort break of 12 minutes at this stage during which time the musicians will play
After consultation with the Master, The Beadle will gavel and subsequently move the lectern among the Speakers as set out below:
The Musicians will leave
The Beadle will gavel and announce “Master, Wardens, Sheriff, Ladies and Gentlemen pray silence for the Upper Warden, Jaki Howes”
The Upper Warden rises – “Master, Fellow Wardens, Sheriff, Ladies and gentlemen” and after a speech (of 5 minutes max) proposes the toast to
THE LORD MAYOR, THE CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION AND THE SHERIFFS
21.55 The Beadle will gavel and call “Pray silence for the Master”
The Master rises ‘Wardens, Fellow Masters, Sheriff, Ladies and Gentlemen …………’ and at the end of a speech of (max 7 minutes) proposes the Toast to ‘THE GUESTS’. Note: during the course of this speech the Master will present a cheque to Sheriff Nigel Pullman as the Company’s contribution to the Lord Mayor’s Charity.
22 05 The Beadle will gavel and announce John Burton who will respond to the Toast to the Guests. He will conclude by proposing a toast to the Master (7 Minutes)
22.15 The Beadle will announce “THE MASTER “ who will wish everyone a safe journey home etc and invite them to join in a Stirrup cup in the outer reception area.
The Beadle: “PLEASE MAKE WAY FOR THE MASTER, WARDENS AND YOUR OTHER PRINCIPAL GUESTS”
The Master and official party leave the Hall in the opposite direction to the entry route and gather in the Reception Room
22.45 Members and their guests urged to depart the building
|The guard of hour - The Orpington Sea Cadets|
|The banquet tables within Carpenters' Hall|
|tablecam catches architects in full flow...|
|the Loving Cup passes|
Monday, 18 March 2013
Below is a copy of the Lord Mayor’s speech at his
Banquet for Masters
held last Thursday 14th March 2013 at Mansion House.
(we don't quite understand the date given within the text, but hey.....!)
(we don't quite understand the date given within the text, but hey.....!)
February wasn’t just the MILO Lecture, but it was comparatively lightweight: a relief as I had back problems during most of the month, and had to resort to a walking stick, ’borrowed’ from The Lister Hospital in Stevenage when I suffered a severe sprained ankle many moons ago. I nearly left it on the coat rack on WED February 6 when I attended the Sherriff’s and Recorders Fund Concert, held at St Vedast, Foster Lane a lesser-known and modest Wren Church of 1695-1701. The programme was based on London in words and music. The musical side of this pleasant anthology was provided by members of the Choir, and concluded with Noel Coward’s London Pride, his secular hymn to the spirit of the Blitz and ‘London can take it’: much of Foster Lane was destroyed and proud Goldsmiths’ Hall was gutted. There were also two offbeat numbers- Tell me the truth about love, one of Britten’s cabaret songs to words by Auden; and The bells of London (Oranges and Lemon etc.) from Walton’s Songs for the Lord Mayor’s Table, which was commissioned by The Goldsmiths’ Company, composed in 1962 and premiered by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Gerald Moore in the newly restored Goldsmiths’ Hall. On MON February 18 I was invited to attend the launch of the Birmingham Personal Support Unit at the Birmingham Courts (better known to me as Lewis’s Department Store) in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice. Gary is sitting in Birmingham this term but he wasn’t there. Ann and I enjoyed this, and returned to Harborne for an Italian supper at Café Zizzi. It was a relaxed occasion which prefaced a public inquiry in Westminster over the next two and a half days.
Ann also attended my last event in February, a real blockbuster, on THU February 28, the World Traders ‘Tacitus’ Lecture, which fills the 700 seats of Guildhall to capacity. We’d made a day of it, with a leisurely lunch at Searcy’s brasserie at St Pancras, a stop at Lipman’s in Holborn to purchase a new tail coat (much needed as the 1988 Charity shop one no longer fits!), then a gentle pither round the Guildhall Art Gallery, and virtually first in the hall. Soon a coterie of Masters gathered around us. The lecture Industry and the City – Revitalising the Economy was given by Sir Richard Lambert, Senior Independent Adviser at Deutsche Bank addressing the challenge of growing the economy in straightened times (a perpetual leitmotif from economists, politicians and pundits). Not unexpectedly Sir Richard was committed to a European perspective, but also touched on the sleepwalking into the demise of British manufacturing industry, and the lack of practical fitness for purpose in education. It was sobering to wake up next day to hear the near triumph of little England at the Eastleigh by-election, held the day of the lecture. At the crowded reception afterwards Ann made great effort to find (and presumably buttonhole) her MP, Gisela Stewart, but was unsuccessful.
Into Mad March with an onrush of dreadful weather which deteriorated steadily through the first week. On MON March 4 at 18.30 it was the City of London Guide Lecturers’ Association Lecture at the Dutch Church in Austin Friars. Their 10th Annual Derek Melluish Memorial Lecture was given by Richard General Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, who as head of armed services had been summarily ‘sent to the Tower’ by Gordon Brown who, it is said, blocked further service as Chief of General Staff, reputedly as a result of criticism of Defence Policy over the War in Afghanistan (he had also had a brush with Blair). The lecture drew on Dannatt’s hindsight perspective on the latter part of his military career as well as his new day job, held since 2009. Frankly I would have preferred more about the role of the Constable, although it did arise in the short Q & A session before the reception.
TUE March 5 saw the Builders Merchants Annual City and Awards Luncheon, at Ironmongers’ Hall, 12.30 for 1.00pm. The welcome by Master Andrew Day was cordial and I thoroughly enjoyed this event. However, the timing overran and I had to make a not very discreet exit before the Award presentation was completed to rush to a meeting at the RIBA. This had been convened to discuss Richard Brindley’s paper on Championing London’s Global Architecture Trading Hub, which postulated a new role for WCCA with RIBA input. There had been welcome developments since it was taken to the January Court and this would be ongoing to the April Accounts Court. Once again, the pressure of moving quickly between two different commitments several miles apart was not conducive to effective participation at the latter.
The weather forecast for FRI March 8: Letchworth Garden City Day was ‘wet and windy’: in addition poor visibility veiled the impact of the First Garden City, but happily did not dim the enthusiasm of the 31 participants who arrived at the Spirella factory ballroom for the morning presentation by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, followed after an early buffet lunch, by an afternoon tour of architectural highlights including two superb houses which evoked ‘the spirit of the place’. Dropping in (out of the rain) to The First Garden City Heritage Museum, their exhaustive display of Spirella corsets and memorabilia revealed the amazing range of ‘figure modelling’ garments many of our mothers and grandmothers ordered in confidence from the local network of Spirella ladies, and were made to measure in ‘Castle Corset’. This event was a slice of my professional, academic and literary life involving the Garden City movement, embarked upon in 1974 and continuing in an international context. The calling notices and briefing notes reproduced below
LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY: DAY STUDY TOUR Friday 8 March 2013
LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY: Master Plan layout (1904) and Westholm housing (1906)
Garden Cities are back on the government's planning agenda. I have been involved with their management and conservation for almost 40 years. I have published several books on the subject: the latest Introducing English Garden Cities appeared in 2010 under the English Heritage imprint. In liaison with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation I am organising a visit to the First Garden City, established in 1903 on the basis of Ebenezer Howard's book, Tomorrow: A peaceful Path to Real Reform published in 1898. Building a Utopian community on the green fields of Hertfordshire was a bold strategy for First Garden City Ltd. However the Master Plan by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin and the enlightened cottage housing set standards for community planning during the 20th century and are still relevant today. Howard's 'joyous union of town and country' included a spacious town centre and an industrial estate, reflecting an arts and crafts architectural image, set in an agricultural green belt, which anticipated its statutory counterpart by 50 years.
A unique feature about Letchworth is the requirement that the added value created by its development and management should be returned to the community, rather than distributed to shareholders. The Heritage Foundation is a registered charity which has ploughed resources into regeneration, including the local cinema, and awards grants to community organisations. It is independent of North Hertfordshire District Council, which is the planning authority. Most development requires landlord consent from the Foundation in addition to statutory planning permission from NHDC. The Letchworth Conservation Area covers the town centre, Howard Park, Broadway, Norton Common and most of the early residential areas. Many of the most characteristic early Garden City buildings were listed in 1979, the first predominantly 20th century statutory list. Much of the groundwork for the conservation of Letchworth was put in place by The Master, when he was Principal Conservation Officer at North Hertfordshire District Council in 1974-87.
Letchworth is easily accessible by rail from King's Cross or Cambridge, and is just off the A1 (M) junction 9. We will meet at the iconic II* listed Spirella building (a few yards from the station) at 10.00 for 10.30 for coffee and a briefing by the Heritage Foundation, the ground landlord. A bus tour will include stops at the Garden City Heritage Museum and the outstanding regeneration of Howard Park Gardens, the new sustainable housing at Hartington Place and an early Arts and Crafts private house. Lunch will be provided by the Foundation. The day will end about 4.00 pm.
COMPANY VISIT TO LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY: Friday 8 March 2013
PROGRAMME AND BRIEFING NOTE
Arrival at Spirella Building for Coffee. The Spirella Building was designed by the Letchworth architect, Cecil Hignett, for the American firm manufacturing and marketing made-to-measure corsets, stiffened by a spiral wound spring. The building (constructed in three phases 1912-20) is a pioneer of concrete framing, with generous glazing in the workshop wings and flat roofs, which were used as sun decks by the employees. The ballroom, where our meeting will be held, hosted callisthenic dancing for the employees as well as civic balls. Corset manufacture ceased in the 1970s, and most of the factory was subdivided into myriad small industrial units, and deteriorated, despite being listed Grade II*. It was refurbished as high-tech offices by the Heritage Foundation and was re-opened by Prince Charles in 1999.
Welcome and Presentation by John Lewis, Chief Executive of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and Estate Managers
Lunch at Spirella
Guided Coach Tour of Letchworth Garden City including 7 Willian Way (built 1909 as the family home of Wilson Bidwell (visit)); The Cloisters (now North Herts masonic Lodge), listed Grade II* (built as a visionary education centre by Miss Lawrence in 1907, architect W H Cowlishaw, external view); Friends Meeting House (1907, Bennett and Bidwell, external view). First Garden City Heritage Museum (visit, built 1907 as the offices of Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin) walk through Howard Park Gardens (Mrs Howard Memorial Hall, 1905 by Parker and Unwin) to Rushby Mead Housing (Howard Cottage Society 1911); Hartington Place (competition-winning sustainable housing 2011-12, external visit); Westholm, Wilbury Road (Parker and Unwin 1906, short stop, walk to nearby Exhibition Cottages from 1905); Stanley Parker House 102 Wilbury Road (visit, designed 1909 by Barry Parker for his craftsman brother, listed Grade II*).
Return to Spirella for Tea and departure
Monday, 25 February 2013
Please find attached the latest edition of the Livery Committee Briefing for your information. The Livery Committee feel that this is an important means of communication between them and the Livery at large and have asked that Clerks make this document available to all members of their respective Companies.
Ian Head - Clerk
Friday, 22 February 2013
|The new plaque installed|
The New City Architecture Award 2010 was won by architects FLETCHER PRIEST for a project at No.1 Angel Lane, fronting Old Father Thames on the site of a former telephone exchange next to Cannon Street Station. The new Headquarters of Nomura Securities.
|the extended River Walkway|
click here for details of the WCCA New City Buildings Award
Thursday, 21 February 2013
It had been many years since I had heard the Master give a lecture - I think it was about Berlin, it was certainly in Coventry and must have been over 20 years ago because my late husband was with me. Mervyn has not abated by one whit his erudition. It was a fascinating, beautifully prepared and delivered lecture.
However, although Mervyn and I are often seen at these events together, what is not realised is that we rarely get to talk to each other - we just wave and nod a few times. Well, this week we finally managed to get together for long enough to have a diary meeting - and book our flights to Helsinki - but that is another story.
We went to the opening of the PCU at the Birmingham Law Courts on Monday evening - yes, Birmingham, where I live!!! At home!!! We had a great time, travelled there by bus and met some interesting solicitors and lawyers, Millers Gin [Mervyn - and supped through a straw] and white wine [stalwart Consort], there were some sandwiches but they were in the distance somewhere and we were going out for dinner to Zizzi afterwards.
We did the diaries the next morning and then got onto the computer to book tickets to Norway. All went well until we printed out and realised that we had booked to come back at 8 o'clock in the morning. Have you ever tried changing a booking with a heavily accented Norwegian? Don't. And all the time 'Norwegian Wood' was playing in the background - oh the memories!! We were children of the Beatles era - I would have cried but for the previously mentioned heavily accented Norwegian.
The flights were sorted out and Mervyn's credit card bashed again.
The flights were sorted out and Mervyn's credit card bashed again.
So all is well. Looking forward to the lecture at the Guildhall next week, I understand that we are to visit the art gallery beforehand - see you there?
the stalwart Ann
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
LUTYENS IN THE CITY OF LONDON
This Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects’ lecture is named in honour of the first Clerk to the Company, Lt. Col. Peter M. Milo, who did much to establish the Company in 1985-6.
Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) is best-remembered for his country houses, the Cenotaph and the city of New Delhi. He was born in London, and although he spent much of his boyhood in Surrey, he developed an enthusiasm for buildings in London while at the Kensington School of Art (out of which the Victoria and Albert Museum would later evolve). He acquired an extensive knowledge of London buildings of all periods, particularly the Wren churches and St Paul’s Cathedral, which was reflected in work as diverse as the British School in Rome and the viceroy’s study in New Delhi.
I shall review examples as prelude to discussing his buildings in the City of London.
These City buildings were designed in the inter-war period, when he refined his classicism to address the challenge of new 'palaces of commerce': Britannic House, Finsbury Circus (1920-4); the former Midland Bank HQ in Poultry close to The Mansion House (1924-39) and the Leadenhall Street branch (1928-32) and the former Reuters building at 85 Fleet Street (1934-38). The Palladian temple form of the Mercantile Marine Memorial (1927) facing Tower Hill from Trinity Gardens is one of his finest war memorials. These will be illustrated with my own photographs, supplemented by The Lutyens Trust Photographic Archive, and examples of Lutyens’ sketch designs, courtesy of the RIBA drawings collection.
In 1940, as President of the Royal Academy, Lutyens led a team of architects to prepare a reconstruction plan for post-war London, distilled from his core convictions of a sense of place and the enduring worth of classical values. His concept for the St. Paul’s precinct was based upon the extensive clearance of bomb-damaged areas around the cathedral. A major feature of this was the axial vista from the south transept to the Thames. Accepted in principle by the City of London Corporation, this vista (together with the Millennium Bridge) is one of the most significant additions to the post-war cityscape of the capital.
Sir Edwin Lutyens died on New Year’s Day 1944, and his ashes were interred in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
|The Master (centre), the Master Needlemaker, George Borthwick (left) and Margaret Richardson, Trustee of the Lutyens Trust.|
The MILO Lecture of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, ‘Lutyens in the City of London’, was given by the Master in the Jarvis Hall of the RIBA on 12 February 2013, before and audience of 225. This included Masters from over 40 livery companies, as well our own Livery, Freemen and Students, a sprinkling of Lutyens Trustees, architects and historians. The choreography of thy event involved Geoffrey Purves, Renter Warden introducing Angela Brady, RIBA President, whose mellow Irish tones welcomed everybody and introduced me.
The wood-lined Jarvis Hall has the atmosphere of an exclusive intimate cinema of the 1930s – hardly surprising as it was completed in 1934. The lecturing rostra are small pulpits either side of an enormous cinema screen. I’d had a quality check of my presentation before finalising it, had seen it uploaded and tried it out well before starting time, so I knew it looked fine and the system worked. A sound check made sure that, short of mumbling down at my feet, every word would be heard. However, there’s always a feeling of apprehension as you start, until the adrenalin kicks in and you sail through the presentation. I’d got notes for quotations, but barely used them, and in retrospect, while there were a few things that I didn’t say which I wished I had, there was nothing I had said, which I wished I hadn’t. So it felt successful.
My lecturing technique has been honed by many years of speaking to the Decorative Arts Societies, ‘trial by tweed’ as we call it; ladies who lunch, with the killer instinct of judges on the X factor (or so I’m told since I’ve never watched it). Assembled Masters, even those from the Great Twelve are pussy cats by comparison. Even so, I was relieved when Jaki Howes, Upper Warden chaired the question session, and put her oar in with a blinder about Lutyens’ contemporaries, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Peter Behrens confronting respectively the then limits of the Arts and Crafts and the emergence of Modernism, while Lutyens looked to the past. One significant name was missing. ‘But you didn’t mention Frank Lloyd Wright, who was born in 1867’, I replied. ‘I don’t like Frank Lloyd Wright!’ came the riposte. However that enabled me to discuss the synergy between FLW and EL, who met during the former’s visit to London in 1939, and the way in which the posthumously-published Lutyens Memorial Volumes became bibles in the Taliesin Studios in the 1950s (review copies surely since FLW wouldn’t have paid for them). The question session was more rewarding than many, and Jaki ended with a vote of thanks that rounded off a lecture, which I am delighted to know raised the profile and prestige of WCCA. Except for the Reception when people were happy to continue the architectural dialogue, rather than hasten away. Obviously I can’t post a full text (there isn’t one) but the synopsis above together with a few pictures below gives the gist of my lecture.
Mervyn Miller - Master 2013 WCCA
|1. The former Reuters'/Press Association Building, 85 Fleet Street|
|2. The former Midland Bank Headquarters, Poultry|
4. Britannic House; the corner with Moorgate
Thursday, 7 February 2013
The onset of December brought a distinct end of term feeling. The end of November was signalled on Friday 30/11 by Lunch with the Old Bailey Judges, almost a miss as the East Coast trains were disrupted by suicide at St Neots. By dint of driving fast from Biggleswade to Letchworth I caught a train from Cambridge, which made up for lost time by rattling down a main line free of expresses from the north and I arrived at 12.50, just as Sherriff Nigel Pullman, my host began rounding everyone up for the meal. His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke, next to me, had a daughter with a flat near the centre of Letchworth, which broke the ice for civilised conversation. Usually, guests are offered the chance to visit the Courts during the afternoon to witness Justice in action. As it was Friday, business has either been wrapped up or adjourned for the weekend, fortunate as the judge seated opposite could travel to his country house in Dorset. On Tuesday 4 December the Clerk and I attended the Marketors Company Lecture at Goldsmiths’ Hall, the most opulent of venues, to hear Professor Patrick Barwise expound on ‘Hitting the Sweep Spot: How to achieve Lasting Organic Profit Growth’, a title suggesting one of the lyrics from the ‘sixties Broadway musical ‘How to succeed in Business without even trying’. It was an exposition on ‘Druckerism’, propounded by an American marketing guru of the ‘fifties. As he spoke I reflected that brand recognition was a part of Victorian commerce – think of the Bisto Kids (still revived to help sell the gravy powder) and brilliantly successful despite (or possibly because of) limited media a century ago – press and posters and enamelled signs displayed at shops and on railway stations. The hearty supper after the lecture may not have included Bisto but it certainly cut the mustard for a cold might.
Wednesday 5 December had a Reception for Adrian Waddingham’s Shrieval Election Campaign for June 2013, at Armourers’ Hall. I expect there will be more of this in the New Year, particularly as Common Hall approaches. I rushed on to the President’s Medals Ceremony at the RIBA, guest of Richard Brindley, who had flown to Brazil on Institute business. The Jarvis Hall was packed and all the recipients looked frighteningly young and self-confident. The exhibition was a fearsome display of what computer graphics can achieve. The Reception in the Florence Hall suffered from low levels of light, which made it difficult to recognise people. The building comes alive on these occasions, and I hope that some of this enthusiasm will be generated for my Milo Lecture ‘Lutyens in the City of London’ next February12 (calling notices are out so there’s no excuse not to sign up). What none of us knew was that the centenarian Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer had died – next day I posted a tribute on the blog and Richard, who had become the British spokesperson in Brasilia witness to the scene of mass grief for the man who had created the architectural image for their new capital city (cross reference to the relevant page of the blog). To end the week on Friday 7 December the ‘At Home’ at Southwark Deanery brought welcome calm and radiated the impression of a friendly family party. On the Embankment, a few steps from The Globe, the Deanery house is a rare Georgian survival, rescued from use as a paint factory, and faces what the Dean calls the best view in London. Looking out of the first floor windows across a windswept River Thames towards the floodlit south elevation and dome of St Paul’s Cathedral commanding the skyline, few would argue with him.
A few days to catch up, do some Christmas shopping, and actually start preparing my Milo Lecture, and then one of the Landmarks of the Company year, the Annual Carol Service at St Lawrence Jewry, on Friday 14 December. I had chosen the music – organ voluntaries and carols for choir and congregation in liaison with Catherine Ennis (organist and choir master, who was unfortunately booked elsewhere on the night), Paul Weston had arranged the readings and our Chaplain, Canon David Parrott had signed the Order of Service off. A few ex-cathedra scares notwithstanding – notably the grinding halt to train services on the East Coast following the emergency evacuation of the King’s Cross signal box, which delayed arrival of Upper Warden Jaki Howes- all went ahead without a hitch. The music fitted the mood perfectly, opening with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ in its processional format, stimulating as with John Joubert’s proclamatory ‘Torches!’ to the tender melancholy of ‘The Coventry Carol’; traditional congregation sing-outs including ‘The Holly and the Ivy, ‘The First Noel’ culminating in ‘Hark the herald angels sing!’ The organ voluntaries by Franck (Pastorale) and Bach (‘Wachet auf’) set the scene, while we processed out to Karg-Elert’s splendid ‘Marche Triomphale’). All the readings went well. The buffet afterwards was most convivial, bringing a most memorable event to an appropriate end.
Finally, (if you have been), thank you for reading this. There’s lots, lots more to come. Meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from The Master.....
And so to 2013 … things really got going with a vengeance on 8 January, with a triple bill of appearances. First I was guest at the Epiphany Court Luncheon of the Masons Company, held at Mercers Hall. It was most enjoyable and I found a kindred spirit in the Upper Warden, John Burton, who is Surveyor to the fabric of Canterbury Cathedral (and has recently stepped down from caring for Westminster Abbey, and now their Surveyor Emeritus). The luncheon proceeded at a relaxed pace, but I was committed to attending our Company’s Committee Meetings across town at the RIBA at 2.30pm – my hosts had been warned that I would have to leave early, but to go before the Toast to the guests felt downright rude – I’m not sure what they said about me, although their Master was quite relaxed when I met up with him that evening. The principal speaker, Mark Boleat, the Lord Mayor’s economic adviser had to cross the river for an early afternoon meeting with Boris, so he and I disappeared together. Clerk, I am placing you on the same podium of eminence as the classically educated mophead in terms of striving to attend meeting.
The afternoon Committees were fairly uneventful, although some important business was sent forward to Court. Then it was a scramble to change into my Dinner suit to accompany the Clerk to the Plaisterers’ Company’s Annual Dinner for Masters, Prime Wardens (and Clerks). Set below a modern office high rise on London Wall, the enormous Plaisterers’ Hall gives the effect of being inside a very elaborate celeb wedding cake. It was packed out, yet the number of women guests could be counted on one hand: the Livery still appears to remain a male bastion on some occasions. An enthusiastic jazz combo from the Guildhall School of Music seemed out of context, but they were so good that I’ve requested the Clerk to book them for our Banquet in March. And so to bed … but Samuel Pepys didn’t have to cope with the onset of rail replacement buses when he rounded off the diurnal chronicle thus. When this happens it adds an hour to the homeward journey. The upshot was that my back was in fragile condition, with the consequence that I apologised for missing the Team Build Wash-up Dinner the following evening, although it recovered for the Master’s installation at The Art Workers’ Guild on Thursday January 10th.
Then a clear week, fortunate due to escalating deadlines of an Appeal Proof of Evidence, a complex Heritage Report, Annual Practice Accounts, Tax Return and part payment, VAT return and payment and a final edited version of a chapter on the challenge of conservation in English Garden Cities for an American academic publication all due in the last 10 days of the month!
Presentation of the WCCA/RIBA Stuart Murphy Awards at the RIBA on Tuesday 22 January was rewarding in all senses. The Company’s travel grants, either for individuals of groups (it was one of each this year) enable Part II students to engage in ‘blue sky thinking’. Ione Braddick had investigated the regional vernacular architecture of Mexico and a group from London Metropolitan University had examined regeneration in Croatia. Both presentations were confidently made – communication skills key to understanding, both in the field and to give succinct summaries of what had been learned and understood. After a lively discussion/ question session, I presented the cheques to the winners and Upper Warden Jaki Howes announced the arrangements for 2013. I’m eager to review the entries.
The Annual Lunch at Vintners’ Hall for Masters and Clerks on Friday 25 January (Searcys, the caterers angling for Company Business and the Vintners selling the convenience of their rooftop bedrooms at every opportunity) was a bit of a hard sell. Actually, Vintners’ Hall is one of the best architecturally, and the choice of food and wines was excellent in quality and quantity. It was unfortunate that I had a business meeting in the City at 2.45 and snuck out immediately after pudding – that meant that I didn’t receive the goody bag, which last year contained a ½ bott of decent champagne.
The Organ Recital at Mansion House was rather special: a chamber organ had been made by Manders to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as a present from the City of London. It will be installed in the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey this Autumn, but meanwhile the Lord Mayor, Roger Gifford is hosting a series of concerts in the splendour of the Egyptian Hall, of which this was the first. Huw Williams of the Chapel Royal played a selection from Handel to Elgar designed to put the organ through its paces: small it may be (as organs go) but it packs a powerful punch. Arrived back at Letchworth, there had evidently been snow flurries during the day: icy drifts had swept over one road, which caused me to turn back, but the other rout was fine although I slipped and slithered into the village, which perversely seemed clear of snow.
Monday, January 28: Chartered Surveyors’ Dinner, Butchers Hall
The Chartered Surveyors Dinner featured the famous sirloin, of which the Master tasted, and signified approval (heaven knows what the caterers would have done if he hadn’t!). Personally I would have liked mine more bloody (that’s my deep-seated carnivorous hunter genes kicking in). The speakers were two prominent sports personalities/ commentators, Jeremy Guscott and Adrian Davies, of whom, sadly, I had not heard (that’s my out-of-touch with reality genes kicking in). Mr Guscott, a rugby player, must have found the heat of the hall oppressive as he wore an open-necked shirt. I was seated opposite David Scahill, Master Engineer and around my part of the central table sprig conversation was lively. Timing was excellent, so I lingered awhile afterwards to my cost. I just missed the 10.53 from King’s Cross (which proved to be the last through train of the night). The 11.15 which is timed to reach Letchworth in 26 minutes was cancelled, and decamping from a Peterborough train at Hitchin and taking a substitute bus from Hitchin (all of 3 miles) to collect my car added almost an hour to the journey. Master’s Cross on such occasions!
Tuesday 29 January 2013: Court and Lunch at Cutlers Hall, a fine small Victorian Hall, with a red brick, sandstone-dressed Elizabethan style façade and a beautifully engineered hammer beam roof (designed by a surveyor T. Tayler Smith). I made an early start, and the Court got off to a prompt start, which I assiduously kept to time. Business included formal approval of our relationship with out new regiment, Orpington Sea Cadets, who will provide a carpet guard of honour for the forthcoming Banquet at Carpenters’ Hall, and taking forward Richard Brindley’s proposal for developing a higher profile role for the RIBA, WCCA and the Lord Mayor’s Office in raising international opportunities for British Architects. New Liverymen, Freemen and Students were admitted, including Freeman status for Sir Alastair Stewart, previously and most appropriately created Honorary Liveryman in July 2012, reversing the usual sequence.
And so to Luncheon, a pleasure from start to finish. My guests, Mr and Mrs Martin Lutyens and Mr and Mrs Andrew Barnett (all from The Lutyens Trust) and my Consort all enjoyed the event, and the food, wine and conversation were uniformly excellent.
A 'practice visit' to Justin Bere rounded off the day. Actually it had been pretty busy for Justin, who was elected to the Livery at Court, and also had a student bound for mentoring. His office is in the basement of the Mildmay Community Centre near Newington Green. This had originated as an early 20th century local power generator, converted to its present use in the 1950s, and Justin has transformed it to an energy-efficient building of the highest grade. On much of the exterior almost a foot of insulation has been applied, with state of the art triple-glazed windows and elaborate heat transfer boilers. He is a leader in ‘passivhaus’ technology, so it was perfect CPD for us elders, and we also had a welcome contingent of our students present. All thanks to Upper Warden Jaki Howes and Ann Markey for arranging this in liaison with Justin.
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
|The Master at his Court|
|Justin Bere and Dargan Bullivant are enrobed into the Livery|
|Justin Bere (lhs) and Dargan Bullivant (rhs)|
|Sir Alastair Stewart and Jonathan Ellis-Miller|
|three new initiates...|