On the 31st August the Master received 48 Feltmakers and their guests to a dinner in the dining room of the Royal Fusiliers in aid of both the Feltmakers’ Charitable Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
The party was welcomed by a Yeoman Warder at the Middle Tower. Our Warder, a lively storyteller, entertained us with stories from the history of the tower alternately amusing and gruesome. He brought to life its rich history from the original founding in 1078 by William the Conqueror, through its expansion during the following two centuries to the reign of Edward 1st when it reached the format of today, although at the time it played home to a much larger community including not only the Royal Mint but 21 pubs!
We were then treated to a champagne reception in the museum of the Royal Fusiliers, who have guarded London since 1465. We were able to admire the proud history of the “Gentlemen”, seeing examples of their uniforms, arms, and descriptions of memorable bravery in the different conflicts where they have served.
The Master welcomed the members of the Company and their guests, explaining the special significance of the regiment to himself and his father. The dining room of the Fusiliers is a remarkable setting where the battle-worn standards and union jacks testify to the hard-earned reputation of the regiment. The fine collection of regimental silver was on display and we were particularly honoured to appreciate the accompanying wines from the regiment’s silver goblets. Conversation was lively and, all too soon, Past Master Anthony Phillips thanked the Master on behalf of the guests.
Our Company trooped out under the guidance of our redoubtable Yeoman to witness the Ceremony of the Keys, as the Tower was locked for the night and declared safe against “attack and intrigue”, as has been done every night since the 14th Century. On this occasion, the Chief Warder’s escort was formed from the Grenadier Guards and, after the ritual challenges and responses, the lone bugler performed a moving rendition of the last post in memory of those fallen.
Upon realising that we were now locked in to England’s oldest fortress prison, we briefly considered a bid for freedom by scaling the walls or swimming the Traitors’ Gate until we were permitted a more dignified exit by a small sally port!
My thanks to the Master for a memorable evening in aid of two excellent causes.