News Letter for Members summer 2019

The Master's Summer News Letter

In case you have been wondering what goes on in the world of the Master, I thought a few words covering my first four (now nearly five) months might be of interest. It has been a busy time, not just because of Drapers, and it has gone by extraordinarily quickly.

It started of course with Charter Night in March, an enjoyable evening, even if I did have to make a speech. As I have subsequently heard our new Lord Lieutenant say, you should talk about something you are passionate about, so, like her, I spoke about myself. Our guest that evening was William Charnley, a former Master of the London Drapers, who presented the Shrewsbury Drapers with a new medal for the Master to wear. I have been very honoured to wear this magnificent jewel when representing you all.

I kept a record of the time I spent on Drapers’ business, and in March following the 8th, there were 14 days when I was doing something related, and this level of involvement has continued. Among other activities, John Crackett (now Chairman of the Almshouses Management Committee) and I went to visit Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School, so that I could introduce him to the school, and to our resident there. I also gave talks to two other organisations about Drapers activities and history, and went on one of the fascinating visits to the Flaxmill

In April I had very enjoyable visits to York and Exeter, for Dinners at the Merchant Taylors, and the Weavers, Fullers and Shearmen (the Tuckers) respectively. They both have ancient and historic Halls, which are impressive, and the hosts very welcoming. In Exeter, they have a very interesting exhibition all about the woollen cloth trade.

May brought a most enjoyable ‘Ladies’ Lunch’ at Origins. If you haven’t been there, it’s well worth a visit. It’s at Shrewsbury College, and is run by the students as part of their training. They put on an excellent lunch for us,

We also held the ‘Master’s Dinner’ at my home, which I hope those of you who came really enjoyed. We were fortunate with the weather, and were able to have drinks in the garden, followed by a good dinner, and entertainment by Gareth Jenkins. Thank you for your support, and as a result we will be presenting a cheque to the Shrewsbury Ark for over £2000.

We were invited to join the London Livery Companies for their annual weekend visit to Ironbridge, in early June, a good occasion to tell others about what the Shrewsbury Drapers are all about. Unfortunately it was not the best of times to be visiting an outdoor museum – it was very cold and wet. However, we did have a good dinner and lunch with them.  Several of the Masters then joined us on the Sunday for our Trinity Service and Lunch.

A group of Drapers went into Birmingham and visited the textile exhibition at the City University, to see the graduation displays, including those of two of our textile competition winners, Amelia Rowe and Lauren Davies, both very impressive. Thank you Gaynor for arranging this visit.

We had an enjoyable ‘Residents’ Tea Party’ at Fairford Place, with a really good turn-out of both residents and Drapers. The weather was kind, and the refreshments first class – thank you to all involved, particularly Rob and Kathy.

Jan, your Clerk, and I attended a lunch in Drapers Hall, London – a most impressive place. Jan gave an excellent speech about the rescue of the Shrewsbury Drapers Hall, which I hope will be available for you all to read.

In early July, Mary and I joined the Exeter ‘Tuckers’ for a Boules competition – I’ve written a separate report about this unusual and fun day, which should come with this.

I was also invited to attend the Speech Day at Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School in Newport. It is always so encouraging to hear and see the accomplishments of these young people, which gives one hope for the future. A few days later, Jan and I were entertained in the Haberdashers Hall in London at a reception for their associated organisations. Once again, it was good to meet representatives of other groups, and learn what they achieve. This was on the hottest ever day in England, with interesting travel conditions.

Over this whole period, I have represented you at an amazing number (for me) of Church services. These have included services for the new Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, new Bishop of Shrewsbury, new Vicar of Shrewsbury Abbey, Civic and Mayor making Services, and a service for the Shropshire Society in London.

All of the above are what might be considered the social side of the job. However, along with these have continued the business activities of the Guild and SDHC, including many meetings, both individual and formal. There will be more about these in my report for the Court in September.

Jan is sending out a diary of our Autumn activities, which I hope you can put in YOUR diaries, and will be able to support. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the Summer. Mary and I are soon to be heading for our own holiday in Canada.

Playing Boules on a sandbank.

          The Weavers, Fullers and Shearmen of Exeter sent out a challenge to compete in their Boules competition. They had been doing this for about four years, though last year was a complete washout because of the weather.  This year, in the run-up to their 400th anniversary in 2020, they invited representatives of the Livery Companies with which they have relationships, to join the competition. We had been advised to come ‘prepared for an English Summer day’ –  anything was possible.

          And so, on a gloriously sunny late morning, at the beginning of July, teams of two, from seven other companies (London Drapers, Clothworkers, Weavers and Woolmen, Bristol Merchant Adventurers, Worcester Clothiers, and Shrewsbury Drapers) gathered on a pontoon in the attractive old town of Topsham on the river Exe, just outside Exeter. Shrewsbury was represented by the Master and Mistress Draper, Tom and Mary Taylor.

          There were around 50 competitors in total, the remainder being from the Exeter ‘Tuckers’. We were allocated to small motor launches, and headed off down river, on a falling tide. Our skipper was James, an enthusiastic sailor, who successfully navigated the twisting channel, informing us that when the buoyage had been installed, one of the buoys had been laid on the wrong side of the channel. We travelled nearly to Exmouth, where there was a large sandy bank – many of the banks further up the river are rather muddy. We arrived about an hour before low water, wading ashore from our boat.

          There was already a team setting up camp, and we were immediately offered a beer, rapidly followed by a hot pasty – both very welcome, as it was definitely lunch time! A large board had been prepared for the competition, with each visiting team playing in turn against a pair from the hosts, six ‘ends’ in each match. There was a singles competition for those that weren’t involved with the visitors. The skill, if any, was in getting the range to the puck correct. However, because the sand was runnelled by the waves, hard in some places, and soft in others, sometimes the boule instantly burrowed into the sand, sometimes ran on, - though not necessarily in the desired direction.

          The competition continued on the sandbank for several hours, aided by further beers. The heat of the sun was tempered by a cooling breeze, which made it all very pleasant. However the rapidly rising Spring Tide encroaching on the camp forced a hasty retreat back up the estuary, at about 4pm.

           Plans had been made to have the semi-finals and finals at ‘The Turf’ – a pub at the end of the Exeter Canal, accessible only by boat or by walking, and run by one of the Tuckers. Our team had performed well, but not well enough to get to the final rounds. However we enjoyed further hospitality and a good barbecue supper before eventually being ferried back to Topsham and our Hotel. Altogether a most enjoyable, fun day, very well entertained by this hospitable group.

Tom Taylor-August 2019

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