The Merchant Venturers of Bristol Spring Banquet

Friday 20th May 2016

Fresh from the excitement of the previous evening in Sheffield we drove down to Bristol for the March Venturers' Spring Banquet as guests of the very jovial Master Tim Ross. This was another not to be missed date in the Pipe Makers Master's year. Equally as splendid as the Cutlers Feast but much smaller and more intimate. The 450 year old Merchant Venturers have close contact with us not least because we both have important historical trading links to Bristol. It was a real pleasure to dine at their lovely hall, two Georgian houses, now made into one, formerly lived in by Bristol Merchants. The Hall looks over the Avon Gorge crossed by Brunel's famous suspension bridge in the 19th century and the merchants would have had a fine view of their ships coming into the port of Bristol. Today a forest of trees obscures the view but the gorge is still there just beyond the front garden of the Hall! We dined in the elegant splendour of the Hall dining room a beautiful space for 100 guests. It was a delightful evening and I met a number of the members of the company one or two of whom live in the same village near Bristol lived in by our past master George Lankester, to whom I took back many greetings. I had the pleasure of being hosted by Sir David Wills, scion of the distinguished tobacco family and a former liveryman of our company and was sitting next to a former master Merchant Venturer whose daughter had just started up a company, The Warm Bread Company, making bread mixes. Well worth a plug since on the strength of his recommendation I am now trying out their bread mixes at home and excellent they are.