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My first GofE Summer Barbecue… phew what a scorcher!

Freeman Mark Huxley reflects upon attending his first Guild Summer Barbecue

Photo Credit Phil Kates https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawk684/

Since I was installed as a Freeman last year, my friend and fellow Freeman David Mellor has constantly reminded me of this particular annual event. In part because he manages all the organisation for it, but also he billed it to me as the one not to be missed.

As I always dutifully follow David’s advice (I can hear him chuckling as he reads this), bought a ticket and made my way down to the All Hallows by the Tower Church. Bizarrely I used to work nearby, but somehow had completely failed to appreciate the church’s presence as it was somewhat overshadowed by the Hung Drawn and Quartered Public House on the opposite corner!

What a fool I had been. It is a beautiful space with the reputation of being the oldest church in the City of London with parts of it dating back to AD675. Which makes it 300 years older than the Tower of London! As part of the treats lined up, we were greeted with a refreshing glass of Pimms, most welcome on what was a beautifully sunny evening, and then provided a guided tour of the church and its crypt.

A crypt that houses many fascinating artifacts. Just a few including the baptism record on 23rd October 1644 of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, the marriage records of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the USA in 1797 and another for Judge Jeffreys, the notorious “hanging judge” in 1667. It was also where Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from the church’s tower.

But of course our main event was the barbecue and David’s organisation excelled itself and we were treated to a fine feast, in our usual good company and the relaxing surrounds of the church’s cafe, the Byward Kitchen & Bar. The evening flowed really well, a testament to which must be that this was evening that England played Colombia and there was a TV showing the game. I’m not sure how David arranged the drama of a penalty shoot out and for us to win, but I guess that’s part of his magic.
Fully fed and watered and with the memory of great company and conversation, the evening drew to a close. David was not wrong and it truly was a standout evening. So a thank you on my own behalf and am sure all others that were there to you my friend, for your huge efforts in arranging it and making it such a memorable evening. I for one, will definitely be there next year, wherever it is held and would urge all our fellow Freemen to come along to themselves experience such a lovely event.