An amazing spectacle to see the gentlemen of Trinity House gathered in the National Maritime Museum’s Neptune Hall celebration of the official opening of their exhibition by their master, the Princess Royal. Corralled by the Elder Brethren into manageable groups, Princess Anne greeted her guests individually in her usual accomplished manner. The grand old men of the sea in their frock coats were a very distinguished and jolly bunch – just as the Pensioners of Greenwich Hospital who once resided in these hallowed halls might have been
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One of the highs of the evening was meeting Richard Woodman, joint author with Andrew Adams of the splendid volume depicting the history of Trinity House ‘Light upon the Waters’, which inspired me to prepare a pictorial homage to mark their quincentenary – a dreamlike experience to validate my efforts of this last year – wonderful!
I was indeed fortunate to meet the wardens of Trinity House in Newcastle upon Tyne and from Kingston upon Hull. These very significant ports of yesteryear needed these administrative authorities to organise pilotage and general navigation in and out of their riverside wharves. Both gentlemen had seafaring careers and had been masters of the largest ships afloat. I found their company intriguing as they seemed to be high and dry from their usual environment, but likewise honoured to attend such a significant occasion.
Interestingly, a fellow guest was James Stevens, heading up the organisation of the proposed Tall Ships Regatta in September, coping with the egos of all those involved. Memories of the Festival of the Sea and Sea Britain in Bristol and Portsmouth reminded me of the administrative nightmare of organising so many different skippers of various nationalities to arrive in time, at the right place and be ready to set sail when required. Earlier this year, we went to Cowes to see how they do it every summer, and later this week we are off to Falmouth to see what is expected of the incoming fleets – forward planning is also necessary for artists!!
Meanwhile, the fruits of my endeavours depicting Trinity House’s 500 years still go on – extending my portfolio of drawings to depict many of the hidden gems of their extensive holdings which include alms houses at Walmer in Kent and also an estate in South Bermondsey, both within their charitable domain. The complete works will be hopefully exhibited in lighthouses and other venues around the country, also at their fine HQ building on Tower Hill overlooking Trinity Square Gardens; Tony Othen master planning as always on my behalf.