In a change to our usual venue, this year’s Livery Lunch took place on 15th July in the Sky Bar at the Grange St. Paul’s Hotel, where we enjoyed some spectacular views over the City and the Cathedral in particular. Pre-lunch drinks were served on the open Terrace, and this was very welcome on what was a fine, but rather sultry, day. It is always a pleasure on this occasion to enjoy the company not only of our liverymen and their partners, but also that of our Honorary Freemen, and it was good to see a number of them there. We enjoyed a meal that was well-chosen for a hot day and then settled back to hear from our two speakers.
The first was Professor Harry Duckworth, Professor Emeritus of the University of Manitoba. Although Professor Duckworth’s prestigious academic career has focussed on chemistry, he is also a notable historian and the author of both of the research papers published on the early history of our Company (a third paper is to follow). The second paper has been published very recently, and is entitled “The Feltmakers’ Wool Adventure 1610 to 1624”. We were very honoured, and absolutely delighted, that Professor Duckworth was able to join us for lunch. His very interesting talk considered the strong links between hat manufacture in London and the Canadian and North American fur trades, which involved the export of beaver skins (for fine felted headwear) and also coney/rabbit fur. Professor Duckworth is very much the master of his subject matter, and we were fascinated by his grasp of the development of this relationship.
These documents have done a very great deal to fill in the gaps in our history, much of which has previously been lost to us as a result of turbulent times and catastrophic events such as the Great Fire. The first dealt with our early history, between 1250 and 1604. The second, as above, the period 1610 to 1624 and the third will address the period leading up to 1667. Past Master Bowler also paid tribute to Stephen Freeth, formerly Keeper of Manuscripts at Guildhall Library, who we were delighted, could also be present at the lunch, and whose research has contributed substantially to the process.