Thursday, 14 May 2009

Festival of the Sons of the Clergy

I spent a couple of hours on Tuesday night in the glorious surroundings of St Paul’s Cathedral for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy. I was not wearing the Breast Cancer Campaign hat (not wearing a hat at all actually) but rather that of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers – more about that some other time.

There is a whole world in the City of London apart from the bankers – the world of the Livery Companies – originating in the old trade guilds from about the 14th century. Bear with me for a moment for a bit of history – they governed all the trades which took place in London and were there not only to protect the trades but to ensure that if you called yourself a master carpenter you had a particular level of skill. Today we rely on degrees and diplomas – then it was apprenticeships and the guild protected the rights of the apprentice as well – similar to trade unions (Wikipedia has a good summary of Livery Companies).

OK – that is pretty much a generalisation – but the companies or guilds which emerged from that process are still alive and well and although, like the Needlemakers, the trade has left London, and indeed the UK, they still support allied activities and charities around the City of London.

For me it is a great source of enjoyment and I have met so many interesting people and made good friends. Last night all the Livery Companies attended this very beautiful service with spectacular music in aid of the Sons of the Clergy Charity which supports the clergy and their dependents. You didn’t have to be Christian in order to feel spiritually uplifted by the music and the magnificence of St Paul’s.

We then went to a local restaurant for dinner – wisely they gave us exclusive use of the basement room – we were a rather noisy lot!

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