Plough Monday Dinner 2018

Our Plough Monday dinner was held at Cutlers’ Hall, one of the most distinctive Livery Halls in the City of London and the closest Hall to the Old Bailey where our Master, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC serves as Recorder of London. On Plough Monday the Feltmakers entertain the two Sheriffs of the City of London to dinner and have done so since 1937. As the Senior Judge at the Old Bailey, our Master works closely with the Sheriffs, whose duties include supporting the Lord Mayor and the Old Bailey judges. It was therefore a unique opportunity for our Master to return the Sheriffs’ hospitality in the company of distinguished guests from other Liveries and members of the Feltmakers’ Court. The Plough Monday dinner has its origins in feudal times when the first Monday after Yuletide festivities signified a return to work and, for most land workers, to the Plough. This year’s Plough Monday celebrations were begun by our own Livery Chaplain, Andrew Pritchard- Keens, who with great purpose led all present to declare GOD SPEED THE PLOUGH at the end of Grace.

Jeremy Bedford

Court Assistant Jeremy Bedford proposed an eloquent toast to the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City Of London. He recounted the first real contact the apprentices of the Feltmongers had had with the Sheriffs of London in the early 17th Century. After one unfortunate apprentice had been wrongly imprisoned, the “rowdy Feltmonger apprentices” secured his swift release from the Sheriffs. It appeared a win-win for the Master Feltmaker of the time, as the young apprentices were still at that time the responsibility of the Haberdashers! This time, however, the Sheriffs were offered a warm welcome without fear or anxiety as to any rowdy Feltmaker behaviour. Other honoured guests representing the Sheriffs’ mother companies were Stephen Gee, Prime Warden of the Basketmakers, and Alderman Peter Estlin, Master of the International Bankers. For the first time we were joined by the Master of the Coventry Cappers, Richard Spencer.

Alderman and Sheriff Tim Hailes

The meal consisted of a sumptuous four courses overseen by the Master of the Cooks’ Company, Mark Grove, who sat immediately to the Master’s right for the evening so as to make sure that nothing went wrong! During the meal the Master took wine with the newest Liveryman to be welcomed into the Feltmaker family, Christopher Reeves. After the Loyal Toast Alderman and Sheriff Timothy Hailes spoke about how those working or living in the Square Mile were in the business of trust which is the Lord Mayor’s theme for the year. Sheriff Redcliffe spoke of the day to day work of the Sheriffs. Although the office is an ancient one, he left us in no doubt about its present day value and relevance. Our Master proposed the toast to the guests.

The Master

He described the night in 1941 when the Old Bailey and Cutlers’ Hall had been hit during the same air raid. He explained that since 1967 the Cutlers had given a dinner for the Old Bailey judges each year. In 1995 one judge had fallen over the banisters after dinner and onto a table below. An offer to pay for the damage to the table was made but both parties swept the matter aside and still remain good neighbours. A truly memorable evening, fittingly concluded with the Master offering a stirrup cup to all.

Sheriff Neil Redcliffe addresses diners

Neil Edwards

Carol Service 2017

On Monday 11th December Feltmakers, their families and friends forgot the ice, snow and closed railway stations to enjoy the warmth of the annual service of lessons and carols.  We were cordially welcomed by the Master, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, and Wardens dressed in their livery as we entered the beautiful and historic Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great.

As well as being the traditional venue for the Feltmakers’ Carols, St Bartholomew the Great has been the scene of many films from the Hollow Crown to Muppets: Most Wanted.  However, while the church attracts Hollywood and those of no particular religious belief due to its architecture and sense of history, it is also very much a living church and holds enormous spiritual energy.

It was very moving to hear the pure voice of the soloist from the Priory Church Choir as she sang the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City from the Lady Chapel and then to watch the choir process with the Master, Wardens, Clerk and clergy. Although we might have felt that we had already been bombarded by a commercial Christmas since September, this felt like the beginning of the real Christmas.

The choir was outstanding and treated us to some beautiful music from the likes of Rutter and Gardner and our sincere thanks go to Jonathan Eyre, Director of music, and Benedict Lewis Smith, Organist.

The readings of the lessons were equally outstanding and heartfelt.  Senior Assistant Simon Wilkinson, Richenda Carey, Past Master Eda Rose-Lawson, The Clerk, Sarah Wood and the Master each read a lesson telling the story of Christ’s birth. The story was brought together by our Chaplain, Andrew Pritchard-Keens who gave a sincere address about Christmas presents, how Jesus was the best present and the importance of God’s presence with us.

We left the church to walk the short distance for a casual and convivial supper at Haberdashers’ Hall after which the Master spoke of Crisis charity remembering the homeless at Christmas and throughout the year.  He also thanked all those involved in the service and particularly Jollyon ‘who makes every evening special’, and he wished us all a wonderful, fantastic 2018.

Red Cross Christmas Market 2017



As Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour” and this was in abundance on the Feltmakers’ stall at the biennial British Red Cross Christmas Market. Moreover, the Feltmakers’ sales team raised a staggering £5,227.10, apparently the highest sum raised by any of the Livery stalls.

This could not have been achieved without the generosity of the milliners, hat factories, retailers and individuals who so kindly donated hats for this worthy cause.

As each box revealed its glorious contents, our stall-holders feared there would be insufficient space to display their wares. However, this turned out to be a wonderful conundrum as the Feltmakers’ stall was a riot of eye-catching, stylish headware which attracted lots of attention.

The Lord and Lady Mayoress officially opened proceedings on Preview Night in the presence of H.R.H. Princess Alexandra, after which Michael Mainelli, co-Chair of the Christmas Market and enthusiastic MC, gave a potted history of the Red Cross. He explained how Henry Dunant had helped wounded soldiers at the battle of Solferino in 1859 and then lobbied political leaders to take more action to protect war victims. By 1862, Dunant had committed his ideas to a campaigning book, A Souvenir of Solferino, and went on to form a working group which met in 1863 and became the embryonic International Committee of the Red Cross.

The energetic Feltmakers’ sales team proved to be a winning combination of different talents, benefitting from those who could advise on the correct way to wear a hat, to others who were skilled at merchandising and those who demonstrated convincing sales pitches. The energy level of our stalwart stallholder levels was sustained by a regular flow of ice-cold Champagne which probably enhanced their sales patter!

Additional support was given by our dedicated young models who helped to direct footfall to the stall by wearing some of the wonderful creations as they wandered around the market.

A steady stream of shoppers continued to visit the Feltmakers’ stall throughout the following “Market Day”. We were struck by the diversity of our customers and delighted to see so many young men and women keen to try on the hats and then continue through to purchase. Indeed, some were making multiple acquisitions. It proved to be enormously satisfying to match hats to the variety of personalities who turned up, several of whom were initially reticent to experiment with a hat, claiming that they were “not hat people”.

It was also delightful to overhear some of the comments from satisfied customers such as one lady who declared she hadn’t been so thrilled with a hat since her 20s and another who said: “your stall is glorious! I can just imagine what confections have been snapped up. I adore my hat!”.

None of this would have been possible without the months of “behind the scenes” preparation and the military precision of our team of volunteers who turned up for duty and stayed beyond their allocated slot. Moreover, we had the daunting task of following the dynamic duo of Past Masters, Eda Rose-Lawson and Susan Wood.

A truly grateful and heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped in any way to generate such a successful outcome.

Rebecca Nelson

Installation Dinner 2017

Feltmakers view our 1667 Charter

Friday 6th October turned out to be a chilly but dry evening in the City, as Liverymen of the Feltmakers’ Company welcomed their newly elected Master.

Our evening commenced in the company of Feltmakers and their guests, all within the magnificent structure of the Haberdashers’ Hall, an opportunity to meet old friends, making new ones, as well as to acknowledge and mingle with our newly appointed Liverymen. Climbing the impressive winding stairwell in Haberdashers’, we were greeted at the top with a warm welcome, smile and handshake by our newly installed Master, His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, Recorder of London, along with the four Wardens of the Company. We then proceeded into the Gallery for a champagne reception, a golden opportunity to congratulate individually our new Master on his Installation.

Our new Master, flanked by Wardens Neil Edwards, Nigel Macdonald, Bill Gammell and Lady Gilly Yarrow

At the far end of the Gallery, underneath the magnificent embroidered Mantle, we had the very rare opportunity to observe, and for many to see for the first time, the Company’s 1667 Charter. At 7 o’clock we were ushered into the Dining Hall, where a delicious three course meal was served. After dinner, as the port was being passed up and down the tables,

Sarah McLeod

Mrs. Sarah McLeod (Assistant) welcomed Lord Carlile of Berriew, CBE, QC, FRSA; Alderman John Garbutt JP, Upper Bailiff Weavers; Mr. Christopher Thierry, Master Woolman, and Mr. Nick Steidl, Master Stationer and our three new Feltmakers, as well as guests, to the Installation Livery Dinner.

The Master proposed the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty the Queen followed by that to the other members of the Royal Family.

Lord Carlile of Berriew rose and toasted the health and prosperity of the Master. His Lordship was elevated to the life peerage in 1999 and is a non-affiliated member of The House of Lords, being described as one of Britain’s top legal experts. He made reference that he is indeed pleased and fortunate to know our Master and has known him through a long and distinguished legal career, as well as knowing the former Speaker of the House of Commons, The Rt. Hon.Betty Boothroyd OM,PC, now a Baroness in the Upper Chamber, who is an honorary Feltmaker. He also made a lighthearted reference within his speech to his being elevated to the peerage only by virtue of the fact that at the time he was the only Welsh Liberal Democrat so there was no one else, proving that even eminent QCs have a sense of humour.

Our new Master responded by thanking His Lordship for the kind remarks and congratulated Past Master Jeremy Brassington on having had a very successful year.

He also paid tribute to Cmd Ian Wellesley-Harding RN whose initiative it had been for HMS Lancaster Type 23 (Duke Class) Frigate to become associated with our Livery. The Master also thanked all concerned for the valiant effort in making the evening a success. A special mention was made of the Clerk, Major Jollyon Coombs, and the Feltmakers’ Historical Committee’s efforts in obtaining and showing the Charter, reminding all that it would be still on view at the end of dinner.

The Master

The Master’s Charity, “The Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund”, began initially in the 19thC to provide help for prisoners held in custody and give temporary relief to their families. Two hundred years on, the Fund’s mission is still remarkable in its original concept, as it helps ex-offenders to find their feet and a pathway forward to be rehabilitated back into society. As the evening’s dinner came to a close, there was time to join the Master for a stirrup cup in the gallery and, as we mingled, I was reminded of a song from 1968. It only remained in the UK charts for 13 weeks coming in at No Thirty and was called:

Here comes the Judge, here comes the Judge, silence in the court room for here comes the Judge.

The Judge has arrived, a great evening was the consensus of ALL.

William Murray

Inter-Livery Tennis Tournament 2017

Championship Finalists: L to R Chris Kurkijan, Alex Maxwell Brodie, Tish Peal, Andrew Peal

The Feltmakers were delighted to host the 2017 Inter Livery Tennis Tournament on 6th September at Queen’s Club. After a week of dreadful weather, we were blessed with overcast but dry weather on the morning of the competition, which brightened to sunshine as the competition progressed through to the finals. The Feltmakers put out 3 teams of Gilly and Alan Yarrow, Bruce Fraser and Sara Lyon and Jeremy Bedford and Sarah Hewett.

This year we were at full capacity again with 24 teams playing on Queen’s Club’s six shale courts.  A competitive ’round robin’ of four teams per court playing the best of 9 games determined the 8 teams who proceeded to the Quarter Finals of the Championship with the remaining 16 teams fighting out what proved to be a tremendously competitive Plate Tournament.
There was a high standard of play on all courts with notable victories for some of the ‘seasoned’ doubles pairs against some young and thrusting teams where experience and consistency overcame power and youth.
The Plate Competition included some exciting matches between pairings who were unlucky not to have progressed to the Championship Competition, with a final between the Drapers, represented by Simon Harris and Felicity Conway, and the Carmen, represented by Michael Breeze and Antonia Charalambous, which was won after a hard fought and entertaining match by the Carmen.

Plate Finalists: L to R Michael Breeze, Antonia Charalambous, Felicity Conway and Simon Harris
The Master presents the trophy to the championship winners: Tish and Andrew Peal

In the Championship Competition, the standard of play was especially high this year with new teams fielded by Livery companies challenging for the trophy which, whilst last year was won by the Salters, has found a natural home in the silver collection of the Tallow Chandlers. This year, the Tallow Chandlers, represented by brother and sister pairing Chris Kurkijan and Alex Maxwell Brodie, again reached the final, but were beaten by the Cordwainer mother and son pairing of Tish and Andrew Peal.

The competition was followed by a very convivial dinner in The President’s Room at Queen’s at which the Master presented the winners and runners up with their prizes.
Thanks must go to the Feltmakers’ Bruce Fraser for masterminding the tournament.
We look forward to welcoming the Livery Companies back to Queen’s Club next year.
Jeremy Bedford

Let’s Listen 2017

The Master’s charity event held on 6 July at Haberdashers’ Hall

Let’s Listen 2017 was a sponsored charity event to raise awareness of the advances in hearing aid technology and the support which is now available to help the hard of hearing, with particular reference to employees in the workplace and students in educational establishments.

Feltmakers were invited to the exhibition and workshops during the day and/or to the Gala Dinner held in the evening, all at Haberdashers’ Hall.

The exhibition was opened by our Master, Jeremy Brassington, and Dr Lorraine Gailey, Chief Executive of Hearing Link.

UK’s leading hearing industry and accessibility specialists ran workshops to explore simple, inexpensive solutions to manage hearing loss at work.

There were 15 sponsors and exhibitors from the hearing and assistive listening industry.  Action on Hearing Loss, Hearing Link and Hearing Dogs, the major charities in the sector, also had exhibition stands.  Some 60 disability services delegates from organisations and Higher education Institutions attended the workshop and exhibition area.

The Gold Sponsor was Gloria McGregor who has a severe hearing loss and runs a not for profit company called Lipreading Practice.  She is the wife of the Spectacle Makers’ Renter Warden, John McGregor, and their dinner party guests included Past Masters Dr Christine Tomkins of the Spectacle Makers and Simon Bartley of the Feltmakers.  Conversor Ltd, the Master’s own company, which supplies assistive listening devices and personal amplifiers, was also a sponsor of the event.

In the afternoon there was a panel session including writer & photo-journalist, Bella Bathurst, musician James Kennedy, blogger & author Laura Lowles, business advisor, writer & public speaker, James Raath and hearing technology expert and Hearing Link volunteer, John Trett, all of whom have overcome severe hearing loss to be successful in their respective fields.

Feltmakers, including several Past Masters, and their partners comprised about 25% of a very well attended Dinner in the evening in the Livery Hall at which Esther Rantzen DBE, one of Hearing Link’s well-known Patrons, was guest speaker.  The Master also warmly welcomed the Master Haberdasher, Joff Hamilton.  Dame Esther reminisced entertainingly about her days as principal presenter of That’s Life!, a magazine-style TV series 1973-1994 (remember that!) and more recently about her important role in founding Childline and The Silver Line (a helpline for older people).  During the course of the evening there was a Silent Auction with some very attractive prizes including a Launer handbag, an Eda Rose-Lawson hat, a dinner and night at a Cotswold House & Spa hotel, vintage port, golf rounds and dinner at Magdalen College Oxford kindly donated by Feltmakers, and a pair of Dents men’s gloves donated by the Master Glover.

The very successful and enjoyable event raised a ‘five figure sum’ both for Hearing Link and for the Feltmakers’ Charitable Foundation.

Richard Farmer


Master’s Golf Day 2017

The Master’s Charity Golf Day was held at Worplesdon Golf Club on Friday 16th June.
The weather was perfect and a superbly presented golf course presented a challenge to even the best golfers amongst us.
This year I changed the format to raise funds for our Charity by inviting a number of guests from Worplesdon Golf Club and other Livery Companies.
We were delighted the immediate Past Master Framework Knitter, Liz Green, was able to join us.
There were twenty golfers and 24 for dinner in the clubhouse.
Winner of the event was David Hough from Worplesdon and the prize for Lady Winner and nearest the pin was Liz Green. Longest drive and winner of the main Raffle prize was Feltmaker Nick Lee.
We had a most enjoyable day and raised almost £2,000 for the Feltmakers’ Charitable Foundation.
Next year’s Master’s Golf Day is being organised by Nick Lee.

Jeremy Brassington


Feltmakers’ Banquet 2017

The annual gathering of Feltmakers and their guests at the Mansion House took place on Friday, 2nd June 2017. All were warmly welcomed by the Master, Jeremy Brassington, accompanied by his wife, Pearl, and our own “Fab Four” Wardens.  The civic party attending comprised the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Sir David Wootton and Lady Wootton, together with Sheriff William Russell and his wife, Hilary.  Also present was a group of seven (wearing traditional dress) from the Zunft zur Waag, one of Zurich’s most ancient guilds.

Hats by prizewinners of the Feltmakers’ design competition (which has been held since 1989) were on display in the Salon and the winning hat this year, designed by Ms Alexandra

1st. Prizewinning Hat

Thompson, was elegantly modelled throughout the evening.

A jolly and convivial affair, with drink flowing and music provided by the Brass Quartet of the Royal Marines Concert Band in the setting of the splendid Egyptian Hall. Perhaps unique to a Feltmakers’ gathering, many ladies wore adorable little cocktail hats to complement their evening gowns. Amusement was provided within some of the speeches (notably that of the Upper Warden, Nicholas Hilliard) and the ability of the post horn to play the “gallop” whilst run-walking a full circuit of the dining tables, seemingly in one breath.

Nicholas Hilliard

And despite the provision of detailed written instructions for the ceremony of the Loving Cup,

The Loving Cup Ceremony

it is wonderful to see the concentration on people’s faces as they try to get the sequence of events right. Maybe the fault lies not in a lack of comprehension of said instructions, but an acute shortage of reading spectacles….

Sir David Wootton

Charity being a fundamental component of the Livery movement, both Sir David and the Master spoke of it – and the importance of change.

Master Jeremy Brassington

Sir David mentioned the good work done by the Old Bailey in its legal and community outreach project and the three music charities which are supported this year by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, for which the Master presented him with a cheque for £4,000.  The Master spoke of fact that, along with many other ancient Livery companies, control over the trades has diminished and we have sought to make charitable giving a more central focus –  to provide a sense of purpose and continued relevance in modern society.  He referred to the recently circulated questionnaire to the Livery regarding our new charity initiative and appealed to members to take the time to complete it if they have not already done so!

Alexandra Thompson receives her prize from Lady Wootton

A lovely evening of fellowship made poignant when one recollects that it took place between two tragic events, one in Manchester on 22nd May, then, the day after our dinner, at London Bridge and Borough Market, when many people lost their lives or were seriously injured. We continue to go about our business; they are in our thoughts, and prayers.

Anne Mannix

Feltmakers’ Design Award 2017

First Prizewinner

The judging of this year’s Feltmaker’s Design Award took place on 3rd. April at Haberdashers Hall.  Entries for the competition are invited from fashion students and employees of a trainee or apprentice status. Designs from new start up businesses are also welcome. This year’s entries did not disappoint: there were over 40 hats from different colleges from both the UK and Europe.

We were very grateful to the fantastic judging panel who very kindly gave up their time to share their expertise. The panel comprised Hilary Alexander OBE, freelance fashion writer, Carole Denford, editor of the Hat Magazine, milliners Edwina Ibbotson, Piers Atkinson and Eda Rose-Lawson, along with William Horsman – retired hat manufacturer. Also on the panel were the competition organisers – milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan and Ian Wright, hat manufacturer.

Second prizewinner

We were pleased to be joined by the Master, Jeremy Brassington and his wife, Pearl, who welcomed The Lady Mayoress, Mrs Wendy Parmley and the wives of the two Sheriffs, Mrs Hilary Russell and Mrs Lindy Estlin. It was a great pleasure to have them there to witness the discussion and final judging.

Third prizewinner

First Prize of £1,200 was awarded to Alexandra Thompson from Kensington and Chelsea College for her subtly elegant ‘upturned bowl’ design. The symmetrical wide-brimmed hat was immaculately blocked in an ivory fur felt with a shallow, round, indented crown. The textile patterning, which continued under the brim, intrigued all judges. The supporting paperwork revealed the patterns had been made by a series of tiny irons used to singe the felt with repeated marks, some of which were then coated in an enamel paint to simulate the glaze designs in pottery; the starting point of this design.

Craftsmanship prizewinner

Second Prize of £600 went to Maria Tzorpatzoglou Kinickon for her dramatic Minoan headdress, a grand affair with regal overtones in black and gold, using a combination of materials and techniques. Felt formed the base, with a tapestry overlay, wired ‘wings’ and symmetrical flourishes of black feathers. The design sits quite forward on the forehead in a central position and creates a dramatic silhouette.

Commercial appeal prizewinner

Third Prize of £450 went to Clare Spicer from Morley College. Clare designed a stunning felt creation reminiscent of carved, rococo mouldings from an early 17th Century English interior – the research showed the inspiration was an over-door surround by the celebrated Grinling Gibbons. The hat itself was a classic pillbox, beautifully blocked. The trim, however, was the winning element. A garland of rustic elements encircled the hat in a festoon of oak and ivy leaves, roses, acorns and, wonderfully, peas in their pods – all immaculately crafted from fur felt embellished with tiny stitches forming the veins in the leaves.  The use of chocolate and tan felts to convey its hand-carved, wooden origins.

Innovative use of felt prizewinner

Additional prizes were awarded for Craftsmanship (£200) to Jude Maunder from Northampton College, his geometric and modernist design fused a hat and a mask in a mottled grey felt, counterbalanced with a dramatic flash of scarlet. This was complemented by two dynamic quills as a trim. The design was a complex structure of three-dimensional triangles, folded in an origami-like manner and intricately covered in felt. The graphic nature of the design worked well with the

Artwork prizewinner

complexity of the structure, and the immaculate finish ensured Jude’s well-deserved award.

The Commercial Appeal prize (£200) went to Marell Kull. This was an easy-to-wear classic fedora design but cleverly blocked from two different shades of grey and invisibly stitched together, edge to edge, in a dynamic curve. In addition the brim was perforated with large chrome eyelets which were echoed in the headband with a chrome ring feature. The classic shape and colour offset by the Rock n’ Roll detailing meant that this was a confident commercial winner.

The judges modelling some of the hats

The Innovative Use of Felt prize (£200) was awarded to Teresa Rodriguez from  Kensington and Chelsea College for her trompe l’oeil bronze butterfly hat. With a variety of finishes and processes, Teresa cunningly transformed a light-weight felt hat into an apparent bronze and copper sculpture. Verdigris and rust covered this teardrop design including a lace-winged butterfly and upturned sweeps of leaves, balancing the mint and umber hues to great effect in this gravity defying style!

The Artwork and Presentation prize (£200) went to to Sarra Haji from Northampton College, for her multi-layered presentation boards showing her entire process from inspiration to technique tests and designs. The boards were backed with a tessellated design based on Islamic tiles. There were a variety of fashion illustrations showing design permutations and tests of various trimming techniques – all of which revealed an investigative and aesthetic design-base from which her beautiful, calligraphic ‘Arabesque’ felt swirl hat was created.

The judging was followed by a delicious lunch with all present.

Many thanks to Haberdashers Hall for the smooth running of the day and to our model, Mica, and Carole Denford for the photography.

Rachel Trevor-Morgan and Piers Atkinson

Inter Livery Golf – Prince Arthur Cup 18 May 2017

The Prince Arthur Cup dates from 1927 and this year comprised 48 teams of four golfers from participating livery companies playing foursomes. The competition is played over 36 holes at the Walton Heath Golf Club with a break for an excellent lunch between rounds. The course was in very good condition and it is always a joy to play if not somewhat challenging. The weather was fine in the morning but unfortunately deteriorated to a rather showery afternoon.

Feltmakers 1 comprised Geoffrey Vero and Gerry Higginson and Feltmakers 2 comprised the Master, Jeremy Brassington and Nicholas Lee. We were playing with teams from the Bakers and the International Bankers.

The Merchant Taylors won the Cup and the Builders Merchants were runners-up. Feltmakers 1 had a difficult morning but a better afternoon, Feltmakers 2 had a reasonable morning but then went downhill in the afternoon. Overall, we came 33rd out of 48 but still had a very enjoyable day.

Nicholas Lee