The Festival Dinner (Sons & Friends of the Clergy), Merchant Taylors' Hall

Tuesday 9th May 2017

We arrived (by cab) with a host of others and found ourselves queuing behind the Archbishop of York who was carrying his own baggage for the cloak counter. It was still a fine evening and we got into the Courtyard (now rid of the glass cover that had appeared by the time of our our ladies banquet last Oct) and I found Peter Rawlinson and Archie Smith to drink and smoke with (– Archie had forgotten his cigars but he’s a novice and will learn!) and we enjoyed a very convivial half hour or so before a beadle summoned us to dine. The room was fully laid, it was indeed a large crowd.. Top Table was on the dais opposite the organ and, using the RY V&A yacht's bell we were silenced for grace by Roger Royle. Before he gave it though, Roger explained how he had been a Clergy Orphan and supported by that foundation which has subsequently been absorbed into the Sons & Friends of the Clergy charity, and as such was an Old Boy of my old school, St. Edmund's, Canterbury. With that done we tucked into a fine meal of crayfish terrine; grilled lamb fondant with braised shoulder; and praline parfait with orange and raspberry jelly with tonka bean crème anglaise – it was excellent (MT’s have their own in House caterers) and washed down with good New World wines. The organ then accompanied us for a sung Grace and we then had the usual toasts (bobbing, I’m afraid). After that The Rt Rev David Rossdale proposed us (the Guests) and was responded to by the Rev Richard Coles whom some of you may hear on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live programme – he was superb, and we enjoyed a highly entertaining 15mins with his account of his early life and career before we toasted the Charity. It was a very fine evening indeed and following such an excellent service it was almost overwhelming – another Master commented to me privately it was one of the best dinners he’d attended in his year, and I can’t gainsay that! Thank you Sons & Friends of the Clergy, may you go from strength to strength!