Forthcoming Bowyer Events: (All bookable now)  | Bowyers' Prize Day, Sat 1 July, Royal Toxophilite Society, Burnham  | Court, Livery & Freemen's Dinner, Tue 11 July, Cutlers' Hall  | 'Water Music 300' Champagne Supper on the Thames, Mon 17 July, Westminster Pier  | Bowyers Longbow Day, Sun 23 July, Royal Toxophilite Society, Burnham    Forthcoming City Events:  |  Election of Sheriffs Mon 26 June, Guildhall (Guildhall election and luncheon now bookable via Bowyers' website). The Election Addresses of the two Shrieval Candidates, Neil Redcliffe JP and Alderman Tim Hailes JP, may be viewed here.  | City Beer Fest, Thur 6 July, Guildhall Yard 12.30-9pm  | Carmen's Vintage Vehicle Marking Ceremony, Wed 12 July, Guildhall Yard from 12 noon

St George's Banquet 26 April at Cutlers' Hall

Cutlers' Hall was the venue selected for the Bowyers' St George's Day Banquet this year and provided a superb backdrop to an excellent evening of good food, fine wine, excellent company and on this occasion unique musical entertainment. An impressive total of 95 Bowyers and their guests, many sporting a red rose, gathered for one of the Company's two annual flagship events and to celebrate St George's Day in typical Bowyers' style.

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Mary Rose and HMS Victory, 22 May 2017

A party of 29 Bowyers enjoyed an exhilarating evening in Portsmouth Harbour's Historic Dockyard on Monday 22 May, with a visit to the new Mary Rose Museum and then the great privilege of a private dinner in Nelson's former Wardroom on HMS Victory.

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Bowyers 3rd in Inter-Livery Rifle Shoot

At Bisley on 2 June, a Bowyers' Company team of Duncan Samuel, Myles Archibald and Andrew Sharpe entered the Inter-Livery Rifle Shoot, and came away delighted to have achieved 3rd place overall on the day, behind the Clothworkers and the Gunmakers. Duncan came a splendid 1st individually in the Target Rifle event, and the team as a whole came 3rd in the Target Rifle, Gallery Rifle and Pistol events.

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St George's Banquet 26 April at Cutlers' Hall

Cutlers' Hall was the venue selected for the Bowyers' St George's Day Banquet this year and provided a superb backdrop to an excellent evening of good food, fine wine, excellent company and on this occasion unique musical entertainment. An impressive total of 95 Bowyers and their guests, many sporting a red rose, gathered for one of the Company's two annual flagship events and to celebrate St George's Day in typical Bowyers' style.

Having been welcomed into the Hall by an impressively turned out Carpet Guard of Brentwood Sea Cadets (our newest affiliation), the Bowyers and their guests were received by the Master and Wardens and their wives prior to a champagne reception. During the reception, Mr Rob Doyle, Chairman of the Brentwood Sea Cadets and one of our guests for the evening, flanked by some of the cadets, gave a short talk on the role of the organisation and its aims and objectives. He concluded by very generously presenting a unit shield to the Master on behalf of the Company and also to Past Master Michael Wren who had been responsible for initiating and developing the relationship.

Having been welcomed into the Hall by an impressively turned out Carpet Guard of Brentwood Sea Cadets (our newest affiliation), the Bowyers and their guests were received by the Master and Wardens and their wives prior to a champagne reception.

During the reception, Mr Rob Doyle, Chairman of the Brentwood Sea Cadets and one of our guests for the evening, flanked by some of the cadets, gave a short talk on the role of the organisation and its aims and objectives. He concluded by very generously presenting a unit shield to the Master on behalf of the Company and also to Past Master Michael Wren who had been responsible for initiating and developing the relationship.

Upon the ringing of the Bowyers' dining bell the assembled company climbed the stairs to the Livery Hall to the accompaniment of the excellent Sea Cadet pipers. Our caterers for the evening, The Cook and The Butler, served an excellent four-course meal of cod, beef, lime cheesecake and devilled liver accompanied by some excellent wines, all of which was very much enjoyed by the diners. Following the Sung Grace, the passing of the Loving Cup and our four formal toasts, the diners then settled down to enjoy some musical entertainment provided by Mr Peter Gill, a pianist and singer well known to those Bowyers who had attended the January Court and Livery Dinner at Dyers' Hall some three months previously. On this occasion he performed five ragtime piano compositions by Scott Joplin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer's death.

Once the rapturous applause has subsided the diners then turned to listen to Dr Sinclair Rogers as he welcomed our guests for the evening: Professor Edward Byrne AC, Principal and President of King's College London, and his wife Melissa; Mr George Clarke, the Master Cutler, and his wife Isabel; the Fletchers' new Master, Mrs Clare James, and their Clerk Miss Kate Pink; Lt Col Frosty Ellwood from the Mercian Regiment, and his wife Elizabeth; and from the Brentwood Sea Cadets, Mr Rob Doyle. Responding on behalf of the guests Professor Byrne spoke warmly of the importance of the link between King's College London and the Company and thanked the Bowyers for their continued provision of an MA Scholarship and their support of KCL's 'Widening Participation' programme of outreach to schools.

After the Clerk had proposed the toast to The Company, the Master responded by highlighting our friendly links with the 'Warrior Companies', two of which were represented that evening, and to our affiliations, including the Mercian Regiment and the Brentwood Sea Cadets, also both represented. He chose to focus on the charitable work of the Bowyers, explaining that the Company aims to target its charitable giving into areas where it can make a real difference, particularly citing the Mercian Regiment Benevolent Fund, the KCL programmes and the tall-ship sail training conducted by the Sea Cadets as good examples of this. To conclude the evening, the Master proposed a rousing toast to England and St George.

After dinner the Bowyers and their guests rounded off the evening with a Stirrup Cup before dispersing into the night from what had been a highly successful and memorable evening.

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Mary Rose and HMS Victory, 22 May 2017

A party of 29 Bowyers enjoyed an exhilarating evening in Portsmouth Harbour's Historic Dockyard on Monday 22 May, with a visit to the new Mary Rose Museum and then the great privilege of a private dinner in Nelson's former Wardroom on HMS Victory.

The Mary Rose is now stabilised for preservation purposes in its new museum setting, and the whole length of the hull is now on open display, beautifully lit. Some very good superimposed films showed what working life would have been like for the 6-700 men on board Henry VIII's venerable old warship, and the museum's excellent staff gave us a private after-hours tour and commentary, covering the ship itself, what caused it to sink while sailing out to battle in 1545, and the painstaking work of reclaiming it from the silted seabed.

The many longbows recovered from the silt are a major item of interest on the Mary Rose, and provided the first large-scale confirmation of the sheer size and weight of the English warbows at the zenith of their development: 6 foot to 6'6" bows, with draw weights mostly 100-120lbs, some up to 140lbs. A mock-up bow in the museum allows visitors to test the weight they can pull; we can report that Paul Muckle pulled it to its full extent without apparent effort.

After a restorative glass of fizz, we moved next door to HMS Victory, its White Ensign flying proudly from the stern. It is still a Royal Navy ship of the line, with Royal Navy crew, and we were welcomed on board by CPO Gary Burridge, who gave us an extended after-hours tour of the ship, vividly relating how the ship functioned in Nelson's day, and what would life would have been like for the crew, both under sail and in battle. Quite harsh and basic, actually: we now know what a tow-rag was, and exactly what they did with the cat-o'nine-tails. The gun decks were particularly impressive: each cannon would have had a crew of 12-14 to keep it righted, cleaned, reloaded, primed and fired at the maximum possible rate.

The highlight of the evening was our dinner in the Senior NCOs' Mess, formerly Nelson's Wardroom. It is hard to imagine a more atmospheric dining room. This is private naval property, mainly used by the Royal Navy itself, not part of the public tours, and invitations to dine there can only be extended if one has in one's party a currently serving NCO in HM Forces - which we happily do. To mark the courtesy of being on board, the Master made the evening's main toast to Her Majesty's Armed Forces, with responses by Inf Cmd SM and Bowyer Freeman Paul Muckle (formerly RSM 2 Mercian) and our Clerk, Lt Col Tony Marinos (formerly of the Royal Anglian Regiment), both of whom talked with quiet pride of their army careers.

In responding to the Clerk's toast to the Bowyers' Company, the Master talked of the less well known role of the longbow as the main shipborne weapon of medieval times, clocking up some famous victories over the French navy in the 1330s, and still forming a significant part of the armament on the Mary Rose 200 years later. But mainly the Master talked of the huge privilege we were enjoying of dining on HMS Victory, this illustrious and deeply impressive ship, and how very grateful we were to CPO Burridge and his team for making us so welcome.

As a final gesture of the evening's good will all round, CPO Burridge presented the Company with, in proper military folded form, the White Ensign that had been flying from the stern when we boarded HMS Victory earlier in the evening. This is an honour rarely bestowed, and left us without words. It had been the most extraordinarily memorable evening.

Photos by courtesy of Ben Glazier, John Hayton and Tony Kench.

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About the Bowyers

The Worshipful Company of Bowyers is one of the older and smaller of the City of London's livery companies. We celebrate our piece of history, we work hard at our charitable activity, and we provide a convivial sociable environment that keeps our members engaged... Find out more

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