Pewterers Livery Dinner, Pewterers' Hall

Tuesday 7th February 2017

According to our Clerk, we used Pewterers' Hall for a Court Luncheon a few years ago - I must confess I had no recollection of it and, apart from a drinks reception there a few months ago, I hadn't attended a formal event here before, so I was very pleased to receive their kind invitation to do so. The Pewterers are a Company of considerable antiquity which can refer back to 1348, but whose earliest surviving charter is from 1474 - and whose first Hall was from 1478. Predictably the Great Fire burned it to the ground but, more tragically, all of the Plate Books (metal-paged books stamped with date and maker marks) were melted as well, making any pre-Great Fire pewter very hard to identify with any certainty (we are very fortunate that the plate books of the Gold and Silver Smiths survived otherwise we'd be in the same position there too!) The present hall dates from 1960 and, meeting the Clerk at 18.45 in the lobby, we pressed on to the upstairs salon where a good crowd had already assembled. I have to confess I am "with cold" at present and so kept a discreet distance from the main body, but enjoyed some good company with a shipping executive before the Beadle gavelled us to dine. The dining room is downstairs and quite cosy but very comfortable. Some lovely examples of ancient and modern pewter are encased each end, as is a finely embroidered Coat of Arms of 1662. Seated on top table next to the Mistress, Bindy Kent, and the Principal Guest, Michael McLintock, both proved to be excellent company and Bindy had done a lot of background reading on me as she quizzed me closely about matters marine and antique... it turned out that the Master, Roderick, shares my love of the 18th Century and is a compulsive enough collector to merit a subscription to the Antiques Trade Gazette in which he occasionally sees me (all for honourable reasons!) They both proved to be enthusiastic takers of snuff when I proffered my box and were able to tell me all about that as well! We enjoyed a fine dinner of poached salmon roulade; whisky scented beef fillet and poached pear with apple mousse, along with a savoury of Clonakilty black pudding, all washing down with good Chablis, an excellent Chasse-Spleen 2005 and Sauternes and port. We didn't "bob" for the Loyal Toasts etc. and went into a Loving Cup (which I merely mimed for cold reasons). Master Roderick then read a poem introducing the main guests and their companies' contribution to the evening (we lit the candles!) andni the Domican Republic's Ambassador and Lady. Michael McLintock then gave an excellent speech. He is now with Grosvenor Estates and had clearly enjoyed a highly successful career in the City before that. Roderick wound up the dinner by mentioning an extraordinary trove of Tudor pewter that had been recovered in mint state from a wreck off the Domincan Republic about ten years ago, but which was sold two years ago. His talents as a collector came into play as the Company acquired the best of it and it is now housed in splendour in the vestibule - a quite remarkable collection, as shiny and crisp as the day they were made around 1540 and all beautifully stamped with the London marks for Sir Thomas Curtis - a Pewterer whose loyalty to the Company ended him up in jail. Twice. It seems that back then, in order to progress to the Court of Aldermen, you had to be a member of the Great Twelve and the Pewterers' were considered too minor. Eventually he caved in and ended up Lord Mayor once he'd finally transferred to the Fishmongers - what a shame the minute books for those Court Meetings ended up in ashes!! Following dinner, we enjoyed a stirrup cup and a close look at this remarkable group. By 10.45 my pills had long since worn off and I made my excuses with the Clerk and bid our Pewtering friends a very good night.