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Agincourt Dinner, Thursday 23rd October 2014

A total of 97 Bowyers and guests gathered for the Agincourt Dinner on Thursday 23rd October 2014 at Cutlers' Hall to celebrate the great victory of Henry V 599 years ago.

After a grace in rhyming couplets by our Chaplain, the Rev Dr Alan McCormack, a splendid dinner, which included the main course of Wild Boar, was served whilst the company enjoyed the music of the Ziminska String Quartet which played from the gallery. After the traditional Loving Cup, we were then entertained by Mr Dominick Felix, tenor, accompanied by Mr James Sherlock on piano with a beautiful rendition of the Bowyers' Song.

The guests were warmly welcomed on behalf of the Company by Liveryman Rev Peter Bernhard. The principal guests were: the Rt Hon Lord Sumption OBE PC, Justice of the Supreme Court and author of "The Hundred Years War" which when completed will be a work of five volumes of which three have been published; Alderman Charles Bowman, alderman for the Ward of Lime Street; the Master Cutler, Mr Richard Herbert; the Master Fletcher , Mr Andrew McMillan; the Master Arbitrator, Dr Derek Ross; the Master Gunmaker, Mr Simon Grant-Rennick and Brig Andrew Williams OBE of the Mercian Regiment with which the Bowyers is affiliated.

Jonathan, Lord Sumption replied on behalf of the guests. He described how Agincourt was a great victory but it was part of a prolonged conflict which eventually resulted in defeat. He explained that the English are troubled by aggressive war and that we are much more comfortable as a nation in celebrating defensive victories such as the Battle of Britain and heroic defeats such as the Retreat to Corunna and Dunkirk. Nevertheless, he added, Agincourt was an extraordinary achievement and an important part of our national collective memory and mythology. He finished by warning what might have been. He explained that France at that time had three times the population of England and five times the resources and had our kings established themselves as Kings of France, the centre of gravity of the combined kingdoms undoubtedly would have been in France and England would have been a subordinate province. He concluded that we should therefore celebrate our defeat in the Hundred Years War for preserving our autonomy.

The Clerk, Mr Brian Francois, proposed the Toast to the Company and the Master, Rev John Hayton TD, responded. He explained how the "Warrior Companies" of the Bowyers, Fletchers, Cutlers, Armourers and Brasiers and Gunmakers had equipped the armies which won the three great victories of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt as celebrated in our motto. He was pleased that four of those five companies were represented and sorry that the Master Armourer was not able to attend. Whilst dining in Cutlers' Hall in the company of the Master Cutler and Master Fletcher, our Master recounted the story of how the Cutlers, Bowyers, Fletchers and others submitted a joint petition to Parliament in 1387 to appeal against the corruption and tyranny of a former Mayor, Nicholas Brembre. The outcome for the unfortunate Mayor was that he was tried by the Merciless Parliament, found guilty and executed at Tyburn by hanging. He was the only Mayor to have been executed, ever! The Master thanked Lord Sumption and presented him with a company of "Such Goodly Company" by Barbara Megson. The Master welcomed new members who had been admitted at the earlier Meeting of the Court: Mr Alexander Waples, Dr John Manley, Mr Mark Powell and Rev Paul Bagott as freemen and Mr Robert Pooley as a Liveryman. The members of the Company joined the Master in drinking a toast to their guests.

The evening concluded with a Stirrup Cup. Many commented that it had been a very special occasion.

Simon Leach

Photographs courtesy of www.michaelosullivanphotography.co.uk, where more photographs can be seen and copies ordered.

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