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.

The Upper Warden, William Gammell, proposed the Civic Toast with a particular warm welcome to the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens Alderman Sir Alan Yarrow who is, of course, consort to our very own Third Warden Gilly Yarrow.  In his reply, Sir Alan recalled attending the Feltmakers Banquet during his year in office thanking the company for undoubtedly the best Lord Mayors’ hat ever made.

In his speech, The Master thanked all those involved in the judging of this years’ Feltmakers Award before Lady Yarrow presented the award to the winner.  He also made special mention to those involved with organising the exhibition held at the Art Workers Guild during London Craft Week in May which had showcased work by 17 milliners, including designs by both Rachel Trevor Morgan and Edwina Ibbotson.

The Master introduced our guest speaker Baroness Scotland of Asthall, QC, Secretary General to the Commonwealth as the “model of a modern baroness”. In her speech Baroness Scotland highlighted the many similarities between the City and the Commonwealth not least the focus on shared values and working in partnership.  Climate change has had a devastating impact on many of the Commonwealth countries.  Yet out of this adversity Baroness Scotland highlighted the positive steps being taken by all 53 member countries to address the issues through the recently agreed climate charter – demonstrating the power of what can be achieved by working together. In her opening remarks she described The Master as having extraordinary persuasive powers, Feltmakers were indeed very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear her speak.

The 2018 Banquet was a very splendid special evening and without doubt the highlight of the Feltmakers year to date.

[Pictures to follow]

Emma Whitaker


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