On a beautifully sunny evening on 8th June, Feltmakers and their guests arrived at Mansion House for the Summer Banquet.
Mansion House looked at its very best, and the Egyptian Hall was splendid in the warm glow of the evening sun, while chandeliers defied gravity in the reception rooms. Perhaps the only things more eye-catching than the beautiful rooms, and the guests in their finery, were the prize-winning entries for the Feltmakers Design Award: seven beautiful hats and headpieces, complete with descriptions of the inspiration and thought process behind each design. Each had been selected by the judging panel for qualities such as craftsmanship, innovation or commercial appeal, and it was fantastic to see them on display together to appreciate the variety of styles and inspirations.
At the sounding of the gong, we took our seats for dinner. Fresh crab salad, chicken with spring vegetables, and a mango and camomile mousse proved the perfect meal for a summer’s evening. But this was a feast for more than just our tastebuds.
We were also treated to beautiful music from Holly Brown (soprano) and Emilia Noack-Wilkinson (piano) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They performed four arias, from the tragic Marietta’s Lied from Die tote Stadt by Korngold, to the comic Tarantula Aria from La Tempranica by Gimenez.
The evening’s speeches began with Upper Warden Simon Wilkinson proposing the civic toast to welcome Lord Mayor Locum Tenens Sir William Russell, Alderman Sheriff Alistair King, and Sheriff Andrew Marsden and their Consorts. Sir William joined us as Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons was visiting Asia as part of his mayoral duties. It was a pleasure to be joined by Sir William, especially given his personal connection to the company as a Feltmaker himself – and of course we forgive him his membership of the Haberdashers too; a joint membership which has not been held since the Feltmakers split from the Haberdashers in 1604!
Master Neil Edwards welcomed guests from the Zunft zur Waag guild in Zurich, who recently hosted fifteen Feltmakers at their Spring Festival, Sechseläuten. The Master spoke of their warm hospitality and the spectacle of the celebrations. He also shared details of the Feltmakers’ recent involvement in a celebration much closer to home: King Charles III’s Coronation. As part of the Craft Livery Companies, the Feltmakers supported the Royal School of Needlework, the Broderers, Drapers and Weavers in creating and producing the Anointing Screen used by the King at the most private and spiritual part of the ceremony.
The Master also presented The Lord Mayor with a cheque for £4,000 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, and a further donation to the Alderman Sheriff’s City Ride appeal. Then it was time for the awarding of the Feltmakers Design Award. The Master, together with Lady Russell, presented the 1st prize to Dawn Wilson of Morley College. Dawn’s structural design drew inspiration from such varied sources as the intricately decorated linings of kimonos, and paintings by Cezanne and Hopper. Many congratulations to Dawn and to all the prize-winners.
René Kalt, Past Master of the Zunft zur Waag, proposed a toast to our shared friendship in place of Zunftmeister, Robert Naville, who sadly was unable to join us on the evening. René introduced the customs of the Sechseläuten, including the burning of the puppet (Böög) and the traditional honey biscuits, Tirggel, which he shared with us all. This year marks the fifteenth year of friendship between the Feltmakers and the Zunft zur Waag; a friendship which was sparked “by accident” when Past Master David Bentata and his wife Linda travelled to Zurich as part of the Coronation Masters’ Past Masters’ Association to attend the Sechseläuten. René commemorated the occasion, and David and Linda’s efforts to cultivate this friendship, with a special gift from the Guild – A Certificate of Appreciation. This bond has been enthusiastically nurtured by subsequent Feltmaker and Waag Masters.
Soon it was time to retire from the Egyptian Hall, and join the Master for a final stirrup cup, before departing into the evening, warmed by such enjoyable company and delicious food. An evening almost as sweet as the honey-infused Tirrgel biscuits which René and the Waag treated us to!