Trinity House Quincenterary celebrations
Crossing the river by train, the once familiar city skyline is rapidly changing. Alighting at Cannon Street, one follows the hidden course of the river Walbrook, which is changing yet again. The once dominating cluster of office buildings formerly known as Bucklersbury has disappeared into a cloud of dust, with lofty concrete lift cores rising to the skies denoting the height of the building to be.
The Wren church of St. Stephen Walbrook’s flank wall has been exposed for all to see (for the first time?); always crowded with neighbours which include the stately Mansion House, the present residence of the Lord Mayor. Memories of great civic occasions come flooding back, some humorous as travelling by train has some limitations for those who have to wear ceremonial gear. I well remember meeting the Lady Mayoress to be, clutching her designer hat in a rather large brown paper bag. Today I am dressed in a DJ and black tie in order to blend into the grand do at Guildhall while I sketch the ceremonial scene as it unfolds.
The temporary site hoardings depict the Temple of Mithras and other historic finds of Roman and Medieval London – well worth a pause to study the numerous artefacts illustrated.
Upon arrival in Guildhall Yard, a rehearsal by the Royal Marine Band – still dressed in mufti – pacing out their complicated routine, each intricate movement performed. One by one, the good and the great of maritime London arrive be-suited to their rank, Trinity House elder brethren white-tied with curious long tail coats. The majority escort their elegant ladies (unhatted!) creating a colourful audience lining the majestic Guildhall Yard, a saluting base dead centre guarded by Sea Cadets and other personnel.
When all were gathered safely in the sheltered square, the Civic Party and the Royals arrived in their state vehicles – the Rolls Royces glistening in the sunlight, and then a crescendo of military music burst into the forum and the smartest marine band performed their sterling stuff. The anti-climax was relieved by the reception on the Library and pre-banquet drinkies.
Up above the Great Hall, I had a fantastic view of the proceedings set down below, all awaiting the arrival of their honoured guests as they filed through the tables be-candled and florally be-decked in the grand manner. The clamour of the diners was softened by the Royal Marine Orchestra as the evening swung along; here above, in the company of the giants Gog and Magog and sitting bemused amongst the memorials of heroes past – Nelson being the nearest to hand. To my right, the tall, Gothic windows bore the names of past Lord Mayors, reminding me of many previous city occasions in the not too distant past.