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St. Ethelburga’s Eve – Dedication Service and Artisan Food & Drink Fayre

On 10th October 2017, the Reverend Bertrand Olivier welcomed Freemen and Guests to All Hallows’ by the Tower Church for a splendid evening of food and fellowship.  The event was timed to mark the eve of the Feast Day of the Guild’s Patron Saint, the entrepreneurial Ethelburga, Abbess of Barking who founded Barking Abbey and also built the original All Hallows’ Church on the site.

The evening started with a beautiful, poignant and traditional sung Evensong in dedication to St Ethelburga.  By kind permission of the Trustees of the Oxford Spezzati, Mr Nick Mumby, Mr Adam Smyth and Mr George Pasteur joined the Clerk to sing plainsong for the service.  With the choristers ensconced in the organ loft, the music resonated from above as the congregation enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the great east window and the church’s famous mural of the Last Supper.

The canticles Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were sung in Latin, with English translations in the service sheets. Deus in Adjutorium Meum (Oh Lord God, Assist Me) was the introit, and the beautiful Compline hymn Te Lucis Ante Terminum (Before the Ending of the Day) was offered as the anthem in a service of atmospheric reflection of St Ethelburga’s example of stewardship, faith and mercy.

Following the service, Rev. Olivier introduced the various exhibitors and invited them to share with the congregation, the story of their business journey and the products they were displaying as part of the artisanal food and drink event to follow the service.

The charismatic Philip Wilton, ex management consultant turned cheesemaker from Wildes Cheese based in Tottenham (www.wildescheese.co.uk) told us about some of the different cheeses produced only with milk from sustainable sources and at a fair price; the award-winning cheese making courses he and his partner run at the premises, and the fabulous and innovative cheese wedding cakes that they produce for those wanting something a bit different.

Hugo Jeffreys of Blackhand Food (www.blackhandfood.com) told us about his interesting journey from musician to chef to charcutier and about his commitment to using only the finest quality, free range pork, lamb and game in his amazing salamis and dry cure products.

Next we had a presentation from the fabulous Prestige Patisserie (www.prestigepatisserie.com), a husband and wife team producing superb and scrumptious savoury pastries, delicate macarons and luxurious gateaux, all crafted with the Romanian heritage of talented Master Baker Geanina Ursache.

Last but certainly not least, Mike Wagstaff of Chalice Mead (www.chalicemead.co.uk) told us something of the production of the world’s oldest alcoholic drink; the 16 week process of fermentation using honey, water and bits of the bee stuck to the comb – all carefully filtered out before consumption! – and his aim to “make mead modern”.

Also exhibited at the event were samples of a range of breads from Danish baker Christoffer Hruskova at The Bread Station in Hackney (www.thebreadstation.co.uk); beautiful seasonal sodas such as Pear & Aronia, Cucumber and Strawberry from Ed and Robyn’s Square Root Soda company (www.squarerootsoda.co.uk) and a sample box of three delicious chocolates each, produced by Dark Sugars Cocoa House in Brick Lane (www.darksugars.co.uk).  Guests were also invited to sample Court Assistant Nicola Manning’s home made Japonica and Crab Apple Jelly with Pink Peppercorns and Smoked Cornish Sea Salt which we are told, went particularly well with the Ellis cheese and the Lamb Chorizo!

Freemen and their Guests tucked into the wonderful array of tasting samples from the various producers, networking over a glass or two of wine and working their way round delicious plates and sample tots – even buying some from the exhibitors to take home for later!

The event was a huge success and the Guild is already planning for next year’s St Ethelburga foodie special.  A massive thanks to Court Assistant Nicola Manning , Chair of Events & Fellowship  and  Court Assistant Neil Fullbrook for putting on such a magnificent feast and such an inspiring entrepreneurial event with a difference; our thanks also to Rev. Bertrand for hosting and to the Guild Clerk and his fellow Choristers for the spectacular and atmospheric singing which set the tone for this beautiful evening

St Ethelburga’s Day 2018 will be commemorated at All Hallows’ on Thursday 11th October, more details HERE


(c) Neil Fullbrook and C Hegner

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