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The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers of London

New Lord Mayor’s Hat

On the following Tuesday after the Lord Mayor’s Show, a smaller more intimate ceremony takes place at Mansion House. It is the presentation of the traditional feather trimmed tricorne hat to the new Lord Mayor of London by the Master of The Feltmakers Livery Company, which will be worn by the mayor at all formal occasions throughout the year.

It is a style that dates back to the 17th century, when it was designed and worn for protection. In fact the can be traced back to 1695, when the French Huguenot Corne family arrived in London bringing with them the skills of Parisian hat making, eventually putting their name to the ‘tricorne’ hat, which remains today.

The Master and Wardens of the Feltmakers assembled in an upper room to greet the Mayor and his wife. There is no fanfare or pageantry, just a simple handover of the hat to the Lord Mayor and presentation of a silver hat pin to the Lady Mayoress.

Using traditional hatting processes Patey of London have now made 30 Mayoral tricornes. The process begins with a foundation of four layers of stiffened calico. The crown is then covered with fur felt, whilst the brim has a wool felt inner and a velvet plush outer. When the shape is complete the hat is trimmed with black ostrich feathers and decorated with a wide gold chain.

Words and photos from Carole Denford

Silent Ceremony

On the 29th of September each year (Michaelmas Day) the Liverymen of the City of London elect a new Lord Mayor.  This year Alderman Peter Eslin was elected and became the 691st Lord Mayor of London. On the Friday before the second Sunday in November the new Lord Mayor was sworn into office, at the Guildhall, at a ceremony known as Silent because, apart from the vow of the incoming Lord Mayor, it is held in total silence. Silence that is apart from the heavy tread of the officers as they process in and out of the Guildhall.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Aldermen, the City officers, Masters of Livery Companies and hundreds of their fellow Liverymen. It was as rich in pageantry as it is ancient in history and though it only lasted some twenty minutes or so it was a great piece of theatre. It started with the procession into the hall of The Lord Mayor’s and Sheriffs’ Committee followed by the other City Officials, then the Aldermen, and finally the Lord Mayor Elect, the City Marshal, The Lord Mayor’s Chaplain and the outgoing Lord Mayor, the Rt Hon Charles Bowman.

The Lord Mayor-Elect, Alderman Peter Eslin, swore his oath of office. The outgoing Lord Mayor then moved to his left and summoned the incoming Lord Mayor to his seat. The new Lord Mayor then donned his tricorne hat and exactly simultaneously the newly late Lord Mayor removed his, thus symbolising the transfer of power. The officers then took it in turn to present their symbols of office, the Sceptre, Seal, Purse, Sword, Mace, Collar of Esses and Badge, each one taking three steps forward, then bowing, then presenting the symbol. The new Lord Mayor touched each one in turn and then the officer took the symbol and walked backwards, bowing, essentially reversing the process. Then the incoming Lord Mayor undertook to safeguard the silver and furniture at Mansion House, signing for the “plate”.

All this was watched by the huge audience in reverential silence. Both power and responsibility had been smoothly transferred. The verbosity of endless speeches of congratulation was unnecessary. Congratulations were offered but just with handshakes and smiles, but still all in silence. The processions then went out in reverse order, with the new Lord Mayor triumphantly in the lead.

He and the Lady Mayoress then took the Mayoral limousine to their new home for a year, the largest council house in London, Mansion House. Before they departed the Swordbearer removed his fur hat and took out the key to the seal of Christ’s hospital and handed it to the outgoing Lord Mayor, who passed it to the new Lord Mayor, who returned it to the Swordbearer, who promised to “keep it under his hat

FELTMAKERS BANQUET 2018

Tucked away behind the Bank of England, Drapers Hall stands on the site of Thomas Cromwell’s grand city palace which was acquired by the Drapers in 1543.  The current hall comprises a succession of elaborately decorated formal rooms enclosing a secluded courtyard garden.  It was here on Friday 1 June that a record number of Feltmakers and their guests gathered for the annual Banquet.

Pre-dinner there was an opportunity to admire the court rooms and also to see at close quarters the finalists of the 2018 Feltmaker Award.  A collection of stunning hats were on display along with the accompanying art work, an incredible diversity of designs. The winning hat, designed by Elizabeth Yates, at first glance appeared to be very simple but deeper examination revealed a great deal more both in terms of technical and design skills.  A very well deserved winner and a hat admired and indeed coveted by very many of the attendees.

We dined in the ornate livery hall, adorned with portraits of British monarchs a room which has often been used as a film set including as a double for Buckingham Palace. Serenaded by musicians from the HAC Regimental Band we enjoyed a delicious meal and excellent wines expertly served by the team from the Hall. As ever, the ceremony of the Loving Cup caused a great many smiles and laughter.

Read more…..

London Craft Week-Unveiled – The Craft of Millinery Hat Exhibition

The ArtWorkers’ Guild Hall [Credit Peter Clark]

As part of London Craft Week 2018, Milliners Rachel Trevor Morgan, Edwina Ibbotson and Noel Stewart curated an exhibition to highlight the excellence of the craft of British milliners. In a first for the industry ‘Unveiled – the Craft of Millinery’ was held at the Art Workers Guild in Queens Square and sought to reveal the workings of the best hat makers in the country.

Each milliner/hat was chosen to highlight a different a skill, material or design approach and each designer was asked to provide materials, tools and work in progress to reveal some of the inner workings of their craft. A large proportion of the exhibits were created exclusively for the exhibition including Karen Henriksen who focused on the unique ability of felt to be stitched invisibly to other materials and House Of Flora created a waved hairstyle shaped hat showing exactly how felt can be shaped unlike any other material.  Stephen Jones gave us a fabric covered top hat inspired by the cotton reels of most milliners childhood and Philip Treacy showed how to clip and shape a feather like only he can. With special creations from up and coming milliners Jo Miller and Harvy Santos this exhibition was a landmark for the best milliners in the UK right now. Read more…

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