New Jewel for the Clerk
To mark his year in office as Master, Air Commodore Paul Nash has presented the Company with a New Jewel for the Clerk.
Immediate Past Master Paul writes:
I wanted to present something to the Company to mark my year, and I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate; something that also recognises my own history as Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers.
The Jewel is modeled on the Company’s original Past Masters’ Jewel, which was introduced around the end of Queen Victoria’s reign and the beginning of King Edward VII’s reign in 1901, although the exact year is not known. There is a gap in our Company’s historical records between 1899 and 1923, when our Court records where lost in a flood in the cellars of Girdlers’ Hall where they were being stored up till then. I am most grateful to Past Masters Peter Brunner and John Rae, Liveryman Rebecca Caroe and Tim Fattorini, Director of the jewelers Thomas Fattorini Ltd, who make the Livery Jewels, in helping to try and piece together the history, most particularly to Peter Brunner, who has poured over our remaining records in the Guildhall Library.
Up to 1899 our records show that retiring Masters where ‘just’ given a gift. At some time between then and 1905, the Past Masters’ Jewel was introduced. If you go to Cutlers’ Hall, it has a fine collection of Livery memorabilia, including Company Jewels, and one of them is the Plumbers’ Past Master’s Jewel presented to Alderman Sir Thomas Strong in 1905 at the end of his year, when he handed over to WD Caroe. The design has a ‘top bar’ inscribed with words “Past Master”. Sir Thomas went on to be Lord Mayor in 1910/1911, and WD Caroe served 10 years as Master, from 1905 to 1908 and then 1913 to 1920; the first of three members from that renowned architects family to serve us in that role.
Alderman Sir Thomas Strong’s Past Masters’ Jewel in Cutlers’ Hall, with the ‘top bar’ inscribed with Past Master
At some time later the design was changed and the ‘top bar ‘ was removed, and that started me on an investigation to try to find that date too. This new design is still the current style, as shown below:
The current design of Past Masters’ Jewels without the ‘top bar’
I contacted Liveryman Rebecca Caroe, now living in New Zealand, and she was able to confirm that her great grandfather William Douglas (known as WD) Caroe received a Past Masters’ Jewel in the original style and she still has it. It was passed down to his son, Albon Rendall-Caroe, Rebecca’s grandfather, after he served as Master in 1951/1952 and to Rebecca’s father, Martin Bragg Caroe, after he served as Master in 1985/1986. Hinged plates were added to the back to record each Mastership, as you can see below from the pictures Rebecca has sent me:
The Caroe family Past Masters’ Jewel in the original design with the ‘top bar’
The hinged and inscribed back plate of the Caroe family Past Masters’ Jewel
Albon Rendall-Caroe was succeeded as Master by Lt Col William Rae, who had previously served as Master in 1945 to 1946 and was father of our most senior living Past Master, John Rae. John has confirmed that he “inherited” his father’s Past Masters’ in 1982/1983 after his year as Master, but it is in the new style. It too has a hinged plate at the rear for both inscriptions. We therefore know that the design changed sometime between 1908 and 1945. Past Master Peter Brunner’s extensive research in our Company records can find no reference as to when the design of the Past Master’s Jewel changed. My final piece of investigation took me to Tim Fattorini, who was able to confirm that they still had the original dyes from which the original Jewels were made, but their detailed company records did not stretch back to show when the design changed. I think it is not unreasonable to assume such a change would have been recorded, so perhaps that the change took place sometime between 1908 and 1923, for which, of course, the records have been lost. But we may never know!
Nevertheless, I was delighted that Fattorini’s were able to refurbish an old Jewel, with a new back plate and inscription, a new ‘Clerk’s top bar’ and the crossed quills, which feature on all Clerks’ Jewels. The Jewel also has one of the very first King Charles III hallmarks, creating another marvelous legacy here too.