74 The 379th Feast of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire at Cutlers' Hall

Thursday 21st May 2015

At the invitation of the Master Cutler, Mr David Grey, MBE, I attended the 379th Feast of the Company at Cutlers' Hall in Sheffield. A number of previous Past Masters had mentioned that this is a high point in a Master's Year. How right they were!

Hallamshire was the southern shire of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and its boundary, the Meers Brook, separated Northumbria from Mercia. It was centered on the manor of Hallam which was granted shortly after the Norman Conquest. The manufacture of cutlery, which includes any implement with a cutting edge, has been practised in the area for centuries. Its development was aided by the abundant supply of fast flowing water to power the wheels and quarries of sandstone, used to make grinding wheels.

The first Cutlers' Feast was held in 1625 in a local tavern and the members enjoyed themselves so much that they did it again the following year and the custom was established. The first hall was built in 1638 and the Feast has been held there almost every year since. The present hall, the third, was built in 1832. It houses a unique collection of silver, with at least one Sheffield hallmarked piece from every year since the establishment of the Sheffield Assay Office in 1773.

The Hall is magnificant and opulent and it certainly was a Feast! Before the toasts and speeches, the Mistress and the 50 spouses of the members of the Company joined us in the gallery of the Banquetting Hall.They had been dining separately and it came as something of a surprise as there were ladies present at the Feast! The toast to "The Manufacturing Industries of Hallamshire" was given by Mr Jurgen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK who gave a thought provoking and entertaining speech.

An evening to remember!