Friday, 13 April 2012

Needlemakers’ Court Lunch, April 4 2012

After two weeks of Spring the day of the April lunch felt more like Winter again. It was held at the Apothecaries' Hall and was my first visit to the Hall. It is the oldest extant livery company Hall in the City, with the first-floor structure and arrangement of the Great Hall, Court Room and Parlour remaining as re-built between 1668 and 1670.

I was particularly pleased to be at the Apothecaries as my introduction to the Civic City was from Sir John Chalstrey – the first practicing physician to be Lord Mayor. I met him in the 1980s when he was already an Alderman and he proposed me for the Freedom of the City, which was my first step towards my current role. There is a super portrait of him at the top of the stairs.

The lunch was preceded by a meeting of the Court where we heard reports from all the various committees and the Court was brought up to date on all activities during the last quarter.

We also admitted two new Liverymen: the first was Valerie Hamilton who has a wide involvement with the City – she is a Scrivener, an officer of several ward clubs and President of the United Wards Club.

The second new liveryman is Dr Susan Kay Williams. Susan is already known to many of us, as she is the Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, one of the charities we support and we are looking forward to our visit to the School in September.

The Guest of Honour and our speaker, Dr Simon Chaplin, gave a very entertaining and informative address. I first met Simon when he took a group of us on a very lively tour of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England where he was Director of Museums & Special Collections. In 2010, he moved to his current position as Head of the Wellcome Library at the Wellcome Trust - an excellent place to research his talk. Appropriately he is also a Yeoman of the Society of Apothecaries.

Amongst the subjects he covered he spoke about the dangers of the needle making trade where life expectancy was short and children were also employed. We will be visiting the Forge Mill Needle Museum in June where this is clearly demonstrated.

In the hall next to the entrance I was also intrigued to see a framed illuminated transcription in Hebrew (with translation) of the Doctor’s Oath based on the oath of Maimonides from the twelfth century. This was next to a graphic representation of the Hebrew word for Peace – Shalom -worked in 14 languages including Japanese, Korean, Latin, Arabic etc by the artist Ardyn Halter, surrounded by filigree made out of papercut. Peace and health – one really couldn’t ask for much more!

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