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Let Us Love One Another
The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers
20th October -
One of the highlights of any Livery Company's year is the Installation day of the new Prime Warden or Master. The Basketmakers' Company are one of only 6 Livery Companies to have a Prime Warden. This year Peter Yarker was elected at the July Court and on 20th October the Company gathered at St Margaret Pattens for our Annual Installation Day Service. This was lead by the Honorary Chaplain Rev Canon Andrew Pearson with musical input from the choir lead by Nicholas Biddle.It also featured the first display of our newly restored Company Banner, thanks to the generosity of Past Prime Warden Graham Redcliffe. Following the service the congregation walked back to Skinners' Hall where they were welcomed with a glass (or two) of champagne. Seated at table in the Hall the Prime Warden, Michael Stemp gave a brief outline of his year. He then installed the new Prime Warden, Peter Yarker. The new Prime Warden then presented Michael with his badge as Past Prime Warden. Mrs Stemp also presented the Prime Warden's lady's badge to Mrs Yarker.
The next in line was Deputy John Barker OBE who was installed as Upper Warden and the Upper Warden's lady's badge was presented to Ms Owen by Mrs Yarker. Last but not least it was the turn of Alderman Neil Redcliffe to be installed as Under Warden. There then followed a delicious dinner and the evening ended with a witty speech from the Prime Warden and the customary Stirrup Cup -
13th November -
This year the sun shone for the Lord Mayor's Show and Alderman Michael Bear was duly welcomed by the City as its new Lord Mayor. The longest procession ever, wound it's way through the City lead by the magnificent figures of Gog and Magog. As usual these were pulled by the members of the Guild of Young Freemen and a contingent of Basketmakers, lead by the Prime Warden, were there to safeguard the City! Following the Show a number of the Company retired to the Farmer and Fletchers' Hall for a delicious lunch and rest. The day was completed with a magnificent firework display on the Thames.
17th November -
17th November -
The Annual Stewards' Club Dinner was again hosted by PPW Richard Walduck at the Imperial Hotel. Around 40 Stewards attended and a great evening was had by all. Special thanks were made to PPW Tony Meeson who has now retired as President of the Club and the Immediate Past Prime Warden, Michael Stemp was presented with a pair of motion detecting cameras for installation on his farm so that he can keep an eye on the wild life in Kent!
20th November -
1st December -
As usual the last Court meeting of the year was a very busy one. We began by Installing two new Court Assistants, Stephen Gee and Peter Rooke. Next we had the four new Stewards to be Installed -
Much of the business section of the Court meeting was taken up by further consideration of the proposals put forward for the re-
During the Court meeting Miss Laura Weir was Bound to her grandfather Liveryman David Evans as Apprentice for 6 years.Installed as Yeomen were Miss Hilary Burns, Mrs Suzanne Kerwood and Mrs Linda Lemieux. Admitted as Freeman was David Roberts-
Following the Court meeting there was a Court Dinner at which the Company entertained some 35 visiting Masters and Prime Wardens, together with their Clerks. Despite the terrible weather and disruption caused by the heavy snow a warm welcome was enjoyed by those attending and a great evening was had by all.
16th December -
The Annual Carol Service held in conjunction with the Pattenmkaers is always one of the highlights of the year and with the snow falling outside it was a very seasonal evening. The choir, lead by Nicholas Biddle were in great form and our Honorary Chaplain Andrew Pearson lead us ably through the full Nine Lessons and Carols.
After the service some 70 members of the two Companies walked down St Mary at Hill to Waterman's Hall to enjoy a delicious buffet supper.
12th Januray -
26th January -
The first Court meeting of the year saw a very full attendance, especially as so many members were unable to make the last Court in December because of the very bad weather. As part of the Company's current review of Court structure it was agreed that a Working Party under the leadership of PPW Graham Lewinstein would now be looking at not only the Court structure but at the wider governance issues and bye-
During the Court meeting John Galloway was installed as a Yeoman member of the Company, Matthew Pipkin and Barry Theobald-
Following the Court meeting there was a Livery Dinner in Skinners' Hall and after a delicious meal the Upper Warden, Deputy John Barker OBE welcomed the guests who included The Master Butcher
The Prime Warden closed the evening by thanking Mrs Anstee for her excellent speech and toast to the Company. He then presented a cheque to 2Lt C Wilson who had won the prize as "Subaltern of the Year" from 100 Regiment. He also presented baskets to Mrs Anstee and the visiting Masters.
5th March -
This basket making day was slightly unusual in that we were working in rush. John Page was the instructor for the day, assisted by Ann Nazareth. It was good to see our newest Apprentice, Laura Weir there together with her Master,David Evans. It was also good to see Stephen Bowsher accompanied by not only his wife Jacqueline but also his two daughters aged 6 and 8. A great time was had by all.
8th June -
Although we were unable to enter a team this year there were a number of Basketmakers who attended the races and certainly enjoyed the lunch after. Without predudice the Clerk noted that the Master Marketor won the Masters Race!
29th March -
The event attracted 17 teams from a range of Livery Companies. The Basketmakers' Company had three teams in the event with additional teams from our affiliated 100 Regiment and No 5 Squadron RAF. In total over 100 people enjoyed a great evening of serious and not so serious competition. In the end honours went to the Haberdashers' Company who won the Best Team Trophy and to one of their team who won the Best Individual Player Trophy. The Worst Player of the evening won the Wicker Spoon and came from the Plumbers' Company. As well as providing a great evening of inter-
1st April -
This is always one of the highlights of the City year and on a gloroious day Liverymen from all 108 Companies gathered together at St Paul's. It was a stirring sight to see the cathedral packed to capacity. The address was given by the Dean Of Westminster and HRH Princess Anne was there in her capacity as Master Butcher. Following the service the Basketmakers made there way over to Skinners' Hall for lunch. This was the first time that the Company has lunched here after the service and together with the Skinners', Fanmakers', Turners' and Management Consultants' Companies a very enjoyable day was had.
13th April -
The second Court meeting of the year was held as usual at Skinners' Hall, with a large turnout of Past Prime Wardens and Assistants attending. Amongst the various items discussed were the Draft Budget for 2011/12 which was approved and Mrs Christine Daniels was appointed as the Company's liaison for HMS Richmond. Anthony Charlwood, as Church Warden for St Margaret Pattens also announced that our Honorary Chaplain, Andrew Pearson would be retiring in the summer. Also retiring would be Geoffrey Webber the church's Administrator. This was also the first Court meeting at which the new agenda was in place -
Following the Court meeting there was our usual Livery Dinner where we entertained the Masters of the Founders, Pattenmakers and Marketors Companies, together with their respective Clerks. Following an especially delicious meal the Toast to the Guests was given by Mrs Christine Daniels and the response on behalf of the guests was by Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court -
20th to 23rd May -
Our Prime Warden organised a most enjoyable trip to his home county of Somerset in May, encompassing both Town and Country (perhaps that be
City & Country, or even Cities as we took in two of them). The trip attracted nineteen Basketmakers for the full weekend, swelling to 30 for a magnificent feast kindly laid on by the Prime Warden and his Lady on the Sunday.The visit began on Friday despite the best efforts of the British road network to foil the journeys for many of us.
Upon arrival at the City of Wells, the 15th Century White Hart Hotel was our base and a most welcome dinner in hearty company made up for any frustrations of travel. Wells is the smallest City in England on population with only 10,406 inhabitants (if you discount the City of London), but has had City status since 1205. The Cathedral, built between 1175 and 1490 has a remarkable west front, originally housing 500 sculptures, many of which were damaged by Cromwell's troops who used the statues for musket practice, though 300 survive in place.
On Saturday, there was an action packed day that took us on a circuit of the Mendip and Sedgemoor areas of Somerset.Leaving Wells, we headed north via Priddy, famous for its sheep fair held annually since 1386 and the thatched hurdle-
More recent residents include a colony of feral Soay sheep. The northern cliffs are National Trust property but the southern side is
part of the Marquis of Bath's Longleat Estate. Leaving the gorge, we passed through the village of Cheddar, avoiding its more obvious tourist traps. All praise must go to our erudite guide, the Prime Warden, for avoiding the temptation to make any cheesy comments at this stage.
Well known as a sociable bunch, we Basketmakers then found ourselves at Roger Wilkins's Scrumpy Farm at Mudgley nr Wedmore for a little light lubrication, albeit only 10.30am by this time. A fourth generation cider maker, Roger Wilkins's grandson is now learning the trade and many of us took the opportunity to sample some of his wares. The farm overlooks Westhay Moor Valley, scene of great murmurations of Starlings in autumn and winter, when nightly numbers have been estimated at up to three million birds.
We drove via Shapwick towards the Polden Hills and on towards Bridgewater, home of the Somerset Willow Company where Yeoman Darrell Hill and his wife Heidi were our admirable hosts. Their son, Anthony is now involved making this another fourth generation business.
Basketwork under way during our visit included coffins (a very popular and eco-
strawberries before we were back on the road heading towards Westonzoyland to visit Musgrove Willows. Here, Yeoman Michael Musgrove welcomed us and his wife, Ellen, took us on a tour of the farm, showing us different types of willow at different stages of growth and telling us about the delights and frustrations to be found in the business.After lunch, we were all shown how to make dragonflies and each produced one (some more skilfully than others!).
Onwards, past the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor, fought on 6th July 1685 between James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and his uncle, King James II Glastonbury in the last battle on mainland English soil. The battle concluded a revolt begun some weeks before and included a skirmish at Norton St Philip. The revolt put down, the notorious Judge Jeffries tried Monmouth's supporters at the Bloody Assizes at Taunton. We then drove to Glastonbury, a great centre of Arthurian legend, where we had tea at Abbey House. This was sold in 1907 and the estate agent's description was of a "Gentleman's desirable residence with some interesting ruins in the grounds." -
On Sunday, we headed north via Midsomer Norton (whence the name of Midsomer Murders, though the series was not filmed there) and Radstock to Bath where we saw the Roman Baths and Pump Room. The water for the hot springs falls as rain in the Mendips and descends to between 10,000 and 15,000 feet where it is heated before making its way through aquifers to Bath with over a quarter of a million gallons per day rising at the spring. The Celtic goddess, Sulis, identified by the Romans as Minerva, was worshipped there and this led to the development of the town, Aquae Sulis, which became Bath. There has been a large and successful project to upgrade the experience for visitors in recent years so if you have not been of late, it is well worth a visit and a significant improvement on what was already a memorable place. The audioguide can be strongly recommended. Sadly, we did not have time to visit the cathedral, but this was more than made up for by a guided tour given by Vivienne Young, a knowledgeable and helpful guide (despite threatening us with a test after the tour!).
We then left for Norton St Philip, home to our Prime Warden and his Lady, Peter and Rosemary Yarker. Arriving at The White House, where Peter and Rosemary live, we saw a date engraved in the stone of the building and reading 1658. We Liverymen are not easily impressed with structures a mere 353 years old and were about to describe it as a "new build" when we learned that this was only the date of some renovations and extension work to the original house which was already about 400 years old at that time. Suitably reassured as to the true antiquity of our lunching venue, we entered and were joined by other members of the Basketmakers and by Darrell & Heidi Hill and Mike & Ellen Musgrove who had entertained us so well the previous day.
A veritable feast followed, admirably laid on by Peter and Rosemary,with the chance to eat and to chat and relax.Following lunch, we
visited Faulkland Lavender farm, which had been converted from a diary farm in the last few years, before returning to Wells and, yes, dinner!
A hearty vote of thanks from all present was extended to Peter and Rosemary for their hard work and thorough planning, which made the weekend such a success. We retired to bed and the following morning, went our separate ways home, relaxed, illuminated and entertained.
15th June -
This event was once known as the Ladies Dinner and harks back to a time when not only were there no lady Members of the Company but ladies were excluded from all dinners apart from this and the Annual Banquet -
24th June -
4th July -
Our intrepid bunch of theatre goers met at the Loch Fyne restaurant in Covent Garden for an excellent pre-
6th July -
20th July -
A very busy day began with a meeting of the Court which attracted virtually a full house of Past Prime Wardens and Assistants. One of the main topics for discussion was the recent report from the Governance Working Party. The Prime Warden gave the thanks of the whole Court to PPW Graham Lewinstein who had steered this Working Party through some very difficult waters. The report was unanimously accepted outright and a short précis is now being prepared for circulation to the Membership. Also at Court a decision was made to adopt a Cadet Unit in line with our support for other military affiliations. These have been growing strong in the last few years and the Prime Warden reported that he was flying out that weekend to join HMS Richmond at Gibraltar for the last leg of her journey back from the Gulf to Portsmouth.
It was also noted with great regret that the Clerk had indicated that it was his wish to retire at the end of December 2012 and a Working Party was set up to look at how the Company should be run and to undertake the replacement of the Clerk.
Deputy John Barker OBE was elected as Prime Warden for the forthcoming year together with Alderman Neil Redcliffe as Upper Warden and Assistant Richard Gillis as Under Warden. Finally at Court we admitted as Freemen of the Company Julian Adams, Douglas Leacy, Adrian Meredith and Russell Meredith. Anthony Appleton, Henry Redcliffe, PR Patel and Matthew Pipkin were clothed in the Livery of the Company.
Following the Court meeting there was a packed session to hear a talk by the Upper and Under Warden on the City and the Livery. Although aimed at our younger Members this was much appreciated by all those who attended and their guests.
There was a full house for our July Livery Dinner which by tradition celebrates “Our Trade” and many of our Yeomen were present and doing a lively trade in selling their wares. The Toast to the Guests was given by the Under Warden and the response came from our principle guest His Honour Judge Brian Barker QC, Common Serjeant. As one would expect from a member of the legal profession this was an amusing and insightful speech. The Prime Warden then closed the proceedings but not before he had presented Mrs Kay Johnson with a Lifetime Achievement Certificate in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the world of Basketmaking. He also presented baskets to PPW Olivia Elton Barratt and PPW Norman Woolley on their retirement from Court and in addition to the Principle Guest he also presented baskets to the Master Skinner, Salter and Innholder who were the Company’s guests.
9th to 16th September -
Walking round the ‘Basketry Arts, Useful & Beautiful’ exhibition sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, I was reminded of something Peter Kindersley, founder of illustrated publisher Dorling Kindersley, said many years ago. Asked about their distinctive visual style, Peter said that DK didn’t use pictures merely as decoration; instead they presented “things as they are and let the beauty shine through”. They always photographed objects on a clean white background because that “concentrates the mind, [so the object becomes] a beautiful thing in its own right.”This exhibition really confirmed the truth of Peter’s approach. As I walked around the gallery, I was struck time and time again by the sheer beauty of the exhibits. Some I absolutely loved, and wanted to take home with me; others were less to my taste – but all of them became, in the exhibition space, ‘beautiful things in their own right’.
The contents of the exhibition were as varied as it is possible to imagine. Even their shared roots in the traditions of basketry were sometimes questionable! While many of the basketmakers had used traditional skills such as weaving, coiling and plaiting, there were also lots of unusual techniques which don’t have a name, but could loosely be termed ‘assembly’.
There were baskets made by amateurs, baskets made by professionals and even baskets made by commercial companies. Many were marked NFS (not for sale) although quite a few could be (and were) bought, with prices ranging from tens of pounds to over a thousand. Some were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand; others were large enough to house a body (yes – there actually was a full-
If you thought baskets, basketry or basketmakers were dull, you really should have seen this exhibition.
21st September -
In these times of economic uncertainty there is always a degree of dread for any Clerk embarking on a banquet at Mansion House. After all this is an expensive exercise so you need a significant number of people to make it work financially and you also need a large number to make the Mansion House buzz. This year the Basketmakers' Company did it again and some 276 Members and their guests enjoyed an excellent evening. To have maintained numbers is quite a challenge and to have exceeded last year's is most unusual for any Livery Company.
The Prime Warden welcomed the civic party consisting of the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and their ladies (and gentleman!) together with Billy King-
The Upper Warden, Deputy John Barker OBE, welcomed the guests and Mr Simon Pott, the Past President of the Chartered Institute of Surveyors, responded on their behalf. The Lord Mayor had to take a short leave of absence from the dinner as, in his capacity as Alderman for Portsoken Ward, he is their returning officer and that evening there was a Wardmote. He returned however just in time to receive the Civic Toast from The Prime Warden during which the Prime Warden presented the Lady Mayoress with a splendid basket and the Lord Mayor with two cheques. One of these was the money raised at the Inter-
3rd October -
The City once again made its way to Guildhall for the annual ceremony of electing the next Lord Mayor. Some 24 Basketmakers were in attendance amongst the thousand or so Liverymen present. Alderman David Wootton was elected for the forthcoming year and votes of thanks were made the current Lord Mayor, Alderman Bear, for a great job well done. Thanks were also made to the Lady Mayoress for the important role that she undertakes in his year.
After the ceremonial 17 of the Basketmakers retired to the Salters' Hall where we were once again invited to lunch with the Salters' Company. This is always one of the highlights of our year and we enjoyed a delicious lunch with some outstanding wines in great company. What better way to end the day.