Report on the Summer Festival dinner at Apothecaries’ Hall

Recent events

This year’s Summer Festival was held at Apothecaries’ Hall, close to Blackfriars, and tucked away in a cobbled lane just west of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This black-tie event took place on Tuesday 4th July, and is the main summer event in the Worshipful Company of Plumbers’ social calendar, following its Court meeting, at which six new liverymen were clothed.

Photos of the event by Marcus Jamieson-Pond are hosted on Snapfish. You may download low-res versions or open a Snapfish account for high-res versions (and the first few downloads are free).

Apothecaries’ Hall has an interesting history, and is the oldest extant livery hall in the City. Whilst much of it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, most of the rebuilding from the late 1660s remains. As the name suggests, it is home to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. Having until 1617 been part of the Grocers’ Company, the Apothecaries is now one of the largest Livery Companies with a membership in the order of 1,600. From 1815, and for nearly two centuries, the Apothecaries was one of the bodies empowered to award medical qualifications. Accordingly, its awards were often called “Pots’ Hall degrees”!

Prior to the reception and dinner for the Livery, the Court convened its meeting in the historic Court Room of Apothecaries’ Hall. Six liverymen were clothed at the meeting. The first was Warren Bradshaw, who having served sixteen years in the Royal Engineers, lives in Fochbars, Moray. Previously, our most northly Liveryman was living in Inverness, but it appears that Warren now holds that record. Next was David Gamage, who aims to become a chartered engineer and who came to the Plumbers’ Company via CIPHE, having been proposed by Kevin Wellman. He was followed by Patty Grant, who is committed to education about sustainability and water. One of her interests is the Queen’s Green Canopy, which is presently very topical as we witness some of the worst impacts to date of climate change. David Marsden Pearson, who amongst other things, has worked as a water economist at OFWAT, having been proposed by Assistant Michael Cooper and our company chaplain, Fr. Philip Warner. The fifth liveryman to take her cloth was Eileen Tipping at the age of 95. Having been in business for seventy-three years, Eileen was a director of a builders’ and plumbers’ merchants during the 1960s. She was proposed by the Master and seconded by her son, Malvern, who currently serves as Senior Steward. The final Liveryman to take his cloth was Geoff Westhall, who was proposed by Past Steward John Carnaby and seconded by Past Master Nick Gale. Geoff is a retired plumber and sits on the CIPHE board of trustees and serves as secretary to the CIPHE Lincolnshire branch. Having already taken his cloth, new Liveryman Justin Broadbent also joined the reception for new Liverymen. Justin has owned renewable heating business interests and had been proposed by Upper Warden David Adams and Liveryman Kevin Wellman.

Following a drinks reception in the ante-room to the Court Room, dinner was taken in the historic Great Hall after the Master and the official party, including masters of other companies, processed into the room. The Master, Air Cdr Paul Nash, OBE, gave a short address, during which he introduced the newly clothed Liverymen to those members of the Company, before grace was said by Fr. Philip Warner.

Once again, we were served with a delicious three-course meal, which was complimented by many present. The main course comprised guinea fowl, a regular Plumbers’ fare, which was followed by a summer berry pudding. However, it seems that the watercress soup starter was the star of the show. So many of those present commented on how good the soup was.

Tom Chivers, author of the book ‘London Clays: Journeys in the Deep City’, was our guest speaker. It was fascinating to hear how the sub-soils of London influence what we see above. Towards the close of the evening, we were entertained by cabaret-style duo, led by Tom Wakeley, who sung to us. Following the stirrup cup, guests left as they had arrived: into the pouring rain which for a July day, was uncharacteristically dominated by torrential downpours.

Malvern Tipping
Senior Steward