381st Cutlers’ Feast, Sheffield.

Thursday 18th May 2017

Having had a very quiet evening the night before, we now had to pack the car with a hillside of kit and set off for Sheffield mid-morning. The Master Cutler reciprocates hospitality with about twenty City liveries in a vast white tie spectacular in the massive Cutlers Hall complex in the centre of Sheffield. Many of these Masters had taken advantage of an offer to travel first class on the train for a greatly discounted rate and party all the way up if they wish. The Mistress and I elected to drive so we could take advantage of the time and place and do some sightseeing afterwards and went prepared for a long weekend of it. Having lodged ourselves in the Mercure Hotel and changed into white tie with badges, we were collected by coach for the short run round the corner – had it not been raining, many of us would have been content to walk it, but it was a steady / heavy drizzle. Arriving at Cutlers Hall, there was a fine carpet guard of marines up the entrance staircase which we slowly progressed up to meet Master Richard Edwards, his wife and Wardens. Moving into a large salon for a glass of fizz, we were hosted by a Past Master who informed us that technically the Cutlers were created uniquely by an Act of Parliament and so weren’t a Livery, although similar in nearly all other respects. It was a huge do and I think some six hundred were being entertained, so timings were important – I think some guests were still ‘arriving’ as we were gavelled through to dinner. The dining room is simply vast, I think larger than anything we have in London except perhaps Guildhall, and was packed tonight. Sitting next to a nurse called Sharron from Essex and an industrialist heavyweight in the form of Sir Andrew Cook, I enjoyed divergent company. Sir Andrew loves naval history and we were soon swapping anecdotes and useful sources of information. We enjoyed a fine meal of cured trout, beef fillet, raspberry torte and ice cream and a savoury of dressed crab on soda bread, all very agreeable indeed. The evening was punctuated by a police quartet on bugles and trumpets who announced all the important moments with piercing fanfares, all very impressive and better than a mere gavel! They were up in the minstrels gallery which was right by us so we had a good view! The speeches did their job with an emphasis on the current state of the nation and things to come etc. and were wound up by someone gently pulling the Masters leg as they went back some way together. With dinner done and the Master and principals exited, we repaired to the earlier salons via some displays of superb Sheffield craftsmanship for a stirrup cup. As it was still raining hard, we shared a cab back with the Master from Trinity House in Hull and he and I stayed up for a nightcap with several other Masters.. one became two, and then three… another late night and we had a works visit at 9am, so I made my excuses at 1ish an turned in, pretty well shattered..