Sunday, 29 March 2020

Last gasp of freedom.....

Three weeks ago we attended our last group social event. We didn’t take public transport and drove into the City, paying the congestion charge and parking - the Covid-19 writing was already on the wall. 

The Master Needlemaker organised a visit to the Drapers Hall in the City of London.  We had a fascinating tour of the Hall and a delicious lunch with fellow Liverymen, always a joy, always entertaining and always the warm glow of fellowship. It was a fitting last gasp of freedom – yes, I know that is a bit over-dramatic but sometimes it feels like it!!

The Drapers Company is one of the early Livery Companies, or Guilds of the City of London. It was founded in the fourteenth century and The present Hall, situated in Throgmorton Street, was bought from King Henry VIII in 1543. What was particularly interesting to me is that this had been the house of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Chief Minister to Henry, but had been forfeited to the King on Cromwell's execution in July 1540.

This was very timely for me as I am currently listening to an audiobook of The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel – a continuation of her brilliant Wolf Hall series. This is the period when Thomas Cromwell was living in this house and it makes many references to the house, the garden and the location.  It is nearly 900 pages and about two days of solid listening so entirely appropriate for the current situation.  The reader is delightful and I love it.

Sometimes when I walk through the City or attend events there I can’t quite believe that I am walking the same streets as Cromwell and many others before and since.  There is something quite awe-inspiring about it and the Civic City will survive our current situation – it has survived great fires, plagues and wars. I am sure that the financial City will also spring back – it too has survived much.  

I attach a view of the much reduced garden since Cromwell’s time and one of the beautiful rooms. If I am not misremembering that glass office block is on what was part of the garden - and is now no doubt contributing to their considerable charitable funds.  

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