A steady procession of tailcoated men and elegantly-attired ladies in Little Trinity Lane on Thursday 23rd November heralded the principal event and celebration of the Guild Year. The fourth anniversary of the launch of the Guild of Entrepreneurs, and the Installation of the fourth Master Entrepreneur, returned for the third consecutive year to the beautiful Painters’ Hall, by kind permission of the Master Painter-Stainer.
As the third Master, Ms Kate Jolly, and her Wardens were robed and refreshed in the privacy of the Painted Chamber, the guests, in their best evening dress, began to assemble in the Court Rooms in anticipation.
Violinist Jess Murphy played sweetly to cheer the Freemen and their guests as they came in from the cold November night, and just as clocked chimed the quarter-hour, the Master and Wardens were led into the Court Rooms to take their places for Court.
The Master bade the assembly sit, and the Clerk motioned solemnly for the Beadle to lead in the Freemen Elect. In a series of creatively stage-managed exchanges, seven highly successful entrepreneurs were admitted to the Freedom of the Guild:
Stephen Voller, and
To an approving burst of applause the new Freemen bowed to the Master and took their seats.
The Master then spoke. Her valediction shone with her characteristic humour and moderation, and she paid a gracious tribute to her successor before declaiming, in time-honoured fashion, the results of July’s Election Court.
The Clerk called the Master Designate to stand, and the Middle Warden, Mr Lee Robertson, rose from his seat to face the Master. The Master allowed the robe (which had been let down in anticipation, and had been skirting the floor as she walked) to be removed from her shoulders and placed around those of Mr Robertson, some 11″ higher up.
The Master Designate then read the Master’s Oath, and, with some assistance from the Beadle, Lt Col Mervyn Bassett, the Master’s badge was fastened around his collar and Ms Jolly congratulated her successor to uproarious applause.
The new Master then undertook his first official function, to invest his predecessor as a perpetual Past Master, and Immediate Past Master for the year ensuing. Reenacting the poignent exchange between Ms Jolly and her predecessor, Alderman Sir Paul Judge, just 12 short months prior, the Master warmly shook Ms Jolly’s hand and posed for an official photograph.
A clearly relieved Immediate Past Master took her seat on the Court, where she will remain a voting member for five more years, as the Master proceeded to confirm Alderman Peter Hewitt as Senior Warden for a further year, and to invest Mr Rick Lowe as Middle Warden.
Mr Lars Andersen, elevated to Court alongside Ms Jolly in April 2015 was then called forward as Junior Warden Designate to make his Warden’s Oath and to be invested. Robed in blue and gold, and (at 6′ tall and not yet 50) striking a very noble figure, his fine Nordic features creased into a smile as, at the conclusion of the Oath, the Master congratulated him and presented him with his Junior Warden’s badge.
The final formal business of The Court was for the new Master to swear-in three new Court Assistants. When called, Freeman Gary Dixon, Freeman Alderman Alastair King and Founder Freeman Stephen Wheatley stepped forward to swear to the Court Oath, and to take their seats below the chair.
Closing the Court without further formality, the Master and his Wardens were led out by the Beadle as champagne corks were subtly popped, and glasses filled to slake the thirst of the assembled Freemen and guests. A collective shiver of excitement rippled through the crowd as the scream of bagpipes inundated the ears. Pipe Major Steve Duffy, his cheeks puise and the crook of his arm fiercely choking the tartan bag, played wickedly as the Freemen and guests renewed acquaintances and made new ones over glasses of moussy champagne.
Too soon, it seemed, the Freemen and guests were ushered to the splendid Livery Hall upstairs, greeted as they did so, by the Master and his Wardens, who had led the way.
With all seats accounted-for, the drone and peal of the piper excited the diners as the Master and his principal guests processed in.
A starkly contrasting hush descended, as the Chaplain invoked a blessing upon the Master, and then said grace. The diners took their seats very courteously, and the Installation Dinner began.
Further nods to the Master’s Caledonian roots were to be found in the foods (scallops, Scotch beef and a clootie dumpling, accompanied by fine French wines in homage to the Auld Alliance), and there were appreciative murmurs throughout as the delighted diners savoured Life’s Kitchen’s very finest offerings.
Grace was sung, and a Loving Cup shared, and toasts drunk to the Queen, her family, and to the City in traditional City style. Peculiar to the Entrepreneurs, and a custom of short history though great poignance, is the ringing of the Dan Doherty Memorial Bell. A fourth toast is preceded by the whole company standing in silence as the Master rings, in perpetual commemoration, a beautiful handbell in E to the memory of the Guild’s Founder and second Master.
Coffee was served, and the Junior Warden spoke to introduce the Guild’s guests. Then the Beadle gavelled for the Master.
Mr Robertson, sonorous and august, spoke craftily to inspire and move his audience to support his drives to increase membership, support the Trust and above all to have fun. He paid a heartfelt tribute to his predecessor and presented her with a bouquet and a beautiful gilded certificate comemorating her highly successful year of office. Mrs Robertson, having returned briefly from her work in Quatar, beamed proudly by the Master’s side throughout.
He concluded by asking the Freemen and Officers to toast the Guild’s guests – which they did with enthusiasm and with an adulatory salute to those seated around them – before applauding very readily in approval and support for their new Master.
The Master Marketor , Mrs Sue Garland Worthington OBE, the Master of the Master’s mother Livery Company then spoke in reply on behalf of the guests. In her eloquent remarks, Mrs Garland Worthington drew together the many links between the Marketors and the Entrepreneurs, and pledged her support and that of her Company to the work of the Guild and also to the Dan Doherty Memorial School and Learning For Life – a charity to which the Founder of the Guild was very closely attached. Mrs Garland Worthington concluded by proposing a toast to the Guild and its future prosperity, a toast to which all could stand and very firmly reply.
The Guild of Entrepreneurs of the City of London continues to prosper and to pursue excellence in entrepreneurship and growth industries. Find out more about membership of the Guild at https://guildofentrepreneurs.org/join-the-guild/
photos @Jonathan Cherry