The Merchant Venturers' Spring Dinner

Friday 17th May 2019

The Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol trace their history back to the 14th Century (possbily the 13th Century). Back then, it was a Fellowship of Merchants under a Master to be selected from those who had previously been Mayor or Sheriff of the city. In 1552, ‘The Master, Wardens and Commonalty of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol’ received their first Royal Charter from Edward VI. New Charters have since been granted by many subsequent monarchs and most recently by Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the Society is comprised of around eighty members.

As one of the country's prominent ports, Bristol was the point of entry for many goods over the centuries including tobacco and so it is that our Company enjoys a strong relationship with the Society, a fact evidenced by the warm welcome extended to me and the Mistress at their Spring Dinner. Greeted by the Master, Tony Kenny, we were then welcomed and hosted by Sir David Wills at the Reception where we were introduced to many other Merchant Venturers. Having our own family connections with Bristol, we found a lot of coincidental links.

In the elegant setting of the Merchant Venturers' Hall, we enjoyed a fine meal and fine wines followed by a speech from the Principal Guest, Charles Bowman, the Late Lord Mayor of the City of London. Charles spoke of the links between the cities of London and Bristol and their strengths as the nation faces the challenges of Brexit and the times beyond. To this there was a response from HM Lord Lieutenant of the County & City of Bristol, Peaches Golding. Delightfully, she made mention of the Tobacco Pipe Makers in her speech and then made sure to speak with me and the Mistress during the Stirrup Cup.

As if spirits were not bright enough, one of the other highlights of the evening was musical entertainment from students of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; a cleverly crafted medley of songs, tailored to the occasion. It was a perfect evening.