37 60th Anniversary Banquet at Skinners' Hall

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Our Annual Banquet, celebating the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the Company in 1954 was held in Skinners' Hall. In common with 51 other City Livery Companies, the Skinners lost their original hall in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Nearly twenty years later the new Banqueting Hall was completed on the same site. Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) was commissioned to illustrate the history of the Company and ten scenes were painted between 1902 and 1910.

Some of the Skinners' plate was displayed behind the top table, including the silver-gilt Cockayne cups. Made after William Cockayne left £120 in his will of 1599, the five cups in the form of cocks are used in the election of the new Master and Wardens on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Also on display was the Kemp leopard made in 1680 as a snuffbox, with the head containing one type of snuff and the body another. It was a privilege to see these.

Court Assistant David Lewis proposed the toast to the Guests, which included the Immediate Past Master Skinners' Company, the Masters of the Carmen, Farmers',Environmental Cleaners', Firefighters' and Security Professionals' Companies and the Master of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.

The Principal Guest was Colonel Alastair Bruce of Crionaich OBE who will be taking up the appointment of Regimental Colonel of the London Scottish Regiment from 1 November. He is also Equerry to HRH The Earl of Wessex, Royal, Religious and National Events Correspondent for Sky News, Historical Advisor to Downton Abbey, Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary and a member of the Royal Company of Archers.

The evening ended with music by two singers and a pianist from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

I had attended the Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells and my sons, Charles and James, attended Tonbridge School. It was a particularly special evening for me and I felt very much "at home".