24 May 2016
Dear Fellow Broderers,
I am indeed honoured to have been elected as Master. It is a huge privilege. Thank you all for making it so and I will do my utmost to further our Broderers’ ambitions and make the year as enjoyable as I can.
First I would like to congratulate our immediate Past Master Nick Bagshawe and thank him for all he has done. Deft, decisive and delightful, he has led us through a year full of enjoyment, engaging speeches and stunning locations including Douai Abbey and the Charterhouse, perhaps his crowning glory. However, he has also begun an important review of our business, to make the Broderers more robust so we can remain healthy. He founded the Officers’ Committee to bring more brains to bear and achieve continuity, and he has inspired a number of practical initiatives to engage with the embroidery world and so stimulate membership, which is our life blood.
I will endeavour to continue all his good work, guided by the Court and of course the Officers’ Committee on which the Past Master now sits, and there are some exciting events ahead to focus our minds – I will append a list of all the key dates at the end until the next Broderers diary comes out..
Election Dinner. As you might guess, the year will have a nautical flavour and a musical one. We begin at the Election dinner 15 June when we will be consummating our recent Royal Navy affiliation with 849 Naval Air Squadron (the “baggers”), who will be attending with their Commanding Officer Cdr Roger Kennedy and liaison officer Lt Cdr James Taylor. Now, as Warden it was my privilege to attend the dinners of the other Associated Companies, introducing me to their customs, and I could not but be impressed by the huge uplift the Cooks give their evenings by their enthusiastic singing of grace, by heart. It occurred to me that with our own singing tradition we could do the same, perhaps as passionately as we do the Master’s Song. It would be fitting also because my guest will be one of the country’s foremost choral conductors Dr David Hill (Bach Choir, BBC Singers etc).
Portsmouth. The first away day this year will be a visit to Portsmouth on 13 September to see the 83 metre Overlord embroidery at the D-Day museum (NB The Court Dinner is now 20 September). Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and commissioned in 1968, it was created by the Royal School of Needlework and took 5 years to make. Portsmouth also offers the opportunity to visit the Royal Historic Dockyard and the Mary Rose in particular, which will have just reopened after the last stage of its conservation programme. For those who would like to see more, there will be special arrangements to stay at the Royal Maritime Club, right outside the dockyard gate. HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the submarine HMS Alliance, National Museum of the Royal Navy and a trip around the harbour are all included!
Opus Anglicanum. 1 October sees the launch of the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, their biggest display of 12-15th century embroidery for over 50 years. The Broderers have a particular interest, because not only did we help to purchase the Tree of Jesse cope in 1954, which will be on show, but the Broderers Charity Trust has just agreed to sponsor a two year conservation programme for this and other items. The exhibition is open until 5 February 2017 so to avoid calendar congestion we are planning a private viewing during the week commencing 9 January 2017 (exact date to be confirmed) and making an evening of it, organised by the Livery Committee.
Associated Companies. The Associated Companies dinner 19 October falls, as it usually does, in the week the Royal Navy remembers Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October), so I thought it might be fun to celebrate the event with a traditional Trafalgar Night dinner at HMS President, home of the London Royal Naval Reserve overlooking St Katharine's Dock (note this is not the ship HMS President (1918) moored on the Victoria Embankment). To complement other nautical accoutrements and remembering the musical notes earlier, it is hoped that guests will by now be in good voice to sing hearty sea shanties. Oversight this time will be provided by Admiral Sir Jock Slater GCB, former First Sea Lord and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, and previously your Master’s captain in HMS Kent. We plan also that other guests will include leaders in the fashion world, introduced by our new Fashion Group, another focus group started by my predecessor.
Mistress’s Visit. While Mistress Sarah was a naval wife and also sings, her lifelong interest is in horses, so on 15 November she would like to invite spouses of Liverymen to join her in a visit to the Royal Mews. State coaches, horses, and some of the finest livery worn in the land will be on display and they will hear how the Mews serves The Queen in the performance of her duties and on State occasions. This will be an evening visit, not to be missed, meeting up for dinner with their Liverymen other halves afterwards.
Livery Committee. At this point I would like to pay tribute to the Livery Committee which has offered to organise the V&A evening. I was fortunate to be a founder member in 1999 and as you know everyone is invited to join when they become liverymen. As Warden I can report they are now well of age, having a fluent dialogue with the Court and giving valuable feedback, their first raison d’etre, fostering esprit de corps especially amongst newer Liverymen and promoting Livery participation in their own events and other City activity. I am most grateful for the strong support they gave me as Warden and I commend their work, especially in their efforts to attract new members. As I said at the end of a superb evening at the Tower for younger liverymen organised by the Masons, this generation represents our future.
Other Events. Following previous successes, there will be a Companions dinner with all the trimmings in February around St Valentine's Day. There is no shortage of anniversaries this year with associated events to mark them to keep us busy – The Queen 90th birthday (April/ May), Shakespeare’s birth 450 (May), Blitz 75 (May), Jutland 100 (May/June), the Somme 100 (July/November), Capability Brown’s birth 300 (August), Great Fire of London 350 (September) and the Battle of Hastings 950 (October), to name a few. However, were there to be any spare capacity and appetite, we shall see if there might be time for one more Broderer evening in town.
Finally, as signposted in Past Master Hugh Toler’s letter to the Livery two years ago, we are now evolving a plan to recruit a new Clerk to take office in 2017 as Peter Crouch moves from Renter Warden to Warden. This will in any case be more complex than in most Companies because of the comprehensive nature of his office, but while it is far too early for valedictories, perhaps I could add how much I have appreciated his help so far and we all look forward to his vital support as these changes take place.
Thank you again for electing me. I hope to follow firmly in the footsteps of my predecessor with touches of the sea and song to add to our stitching, which I hope we will all enjoy over the next 12 months.
Cdr P J Mosse RN