Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor Annual Service of Dedication
Thursday 20th July 2017
The Chapel of St Faith, St Paul’s Cathedral and Apothecaries' Hall
For the Mistress and me, it was our second visit to the crypt of St Paul’s this week. In the café area, we met Master Shipwright (and fellow Pipe Maker) Archie Smith, his delightful wife, Miriam, and our Learned Clerk, Sandra. We were directed past the tomb of Lord Nelson and then the tomb of the Duke of Wellington to the Chapel of St Faith, also known as the Order of the British Empire Chapel. Off the Chapel of St Faith can be found the Knights’ Chapel, just a yard or two away from the tomb Sir Christopher Wren.
The Annual Service of Dedication to the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor begins with a procession of members of the clergy and knights of the Order carrying the sword, spurs and the Pennons of the Knight Principal and Knight President. The Order preserves the chivalry of the Knights Bachelor; a name derived from the Norman French word “battelier”, a battle knight. The knights wore brilliant scarlet robes and looked resplendent as they processed down the aisle to take their positions near the altar. The service included several hymns familiar from my school days and two astonishingly beautiful anthems sung by members of the St Paul’s choir. The Address given by the Dean of St Paul’s distinguished the chivalry of the modern Order from the public’s perception of knights derived from watching the last 6 seasons of Game of Thrones. The Dean qualified his address by admitting to having watched just a few clips from YouTube. From my point of view, the Dean had a pretty good grasp of all six seasons from those clips. The service concluded with the National Anthem and the knights and clergy processed out of the Chapel.
We followed the scarlet gowns down Ludgate Hill towards Apothecaries’ Hall where we were treated to a champagne reception and finger buffet. It was an opportunity to chat with other masters, consorts and clerks in a splendid setting. The first Apothecaries’ Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire and was rebuilt in 1672 and is one of the oldest surviving livery halls in the City.