Sheriffs' Installation and Breakfast

Thursday 28th September 2017


I was honoured to be invited to the Sheriffs' Breakfast, following their installation at Guildhall. The Installation was a relatively simple ceremony requiring the new sheriffs to pledge their allegiance and swear upon their collective peril to fulfil their obligations to the letter. The pledges given by both Sheriffs simultaneously were long and completely unambiguous without punctuation, hesitation but often repetition. In other words, by the time it was over, both Alderman Tim Hailes and Mr Neil Redcliffe are pretty much on the hook for anything that may befall the City of London over the next 12 months. Our new sheriffs follow a very successful year enjoyed by their hardworking and exceptionally convivial predecessors Aldermen William Russell and Peter Estin. I wish them well but I am confident it will be a vintage year.

After all the effort of an installation, we retired from the Great Hall for champagne and into the Old Library for the Sheriffs' Breakfast. Over champagne, I had an opportunity to chat to our Hon. Chaplin, David Parrott, who looked rather northern European puritanical in his black cassock and gown. Through all that sartorial austerity, David's welcoming smile will brighten any room. Into the Old Library (the books were removed decades ago, if they were ever there in the first place), we sat down, at 1:30pm, to a sumptuous breakfast. The analogy of a wedding breakfast was a common thread in the speeches that followed. Cornish lobster, served in sea urchin shells, perched on a bed of ice in a 6 inch high hock glass was followed by delicious Ballindalldoch hornless beef and both courses were assisted by an excellent Chablis and a Chateau Junayme, Canon-Fronsac '95. The piece de resistance was the Kiss of the City dragon, fashioned in very solid chocolate (see photograph).

The office of Sheriff of the City of London has judicial responsibilities and the Sheriffs will spend their year in apartments at the Old Bailey. It was naturally fitting that the toast to the retiring Sheriff's should be proposed by The Recorder of London, Judge Nicolas Hilliard QC. It was also fitting that David Lidington (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice should propose the toast to the new Sheriffs. They both replied with good humour and humility.