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Agincourt Dinner, 22 October 2015

On Thursday 22 October 2015 in Cutlers' Hall the Bowyers' Company held its annual Agincourt Dinner, with an especially large turnout of 110 for the 600th anniversary of the battle. The principal speaker was Brigadier Brian Parritt, former Director of the Intelligence Corps, and our toast to the Visitors was wittily and eloquently proposed by the Bowyers' own Major General Andrew Sharpe. Among many welcome guests, we were particularly honoured to be joined by the Masters and other members of our fellow 'warrior companies' from the Agincourt era: the Armourers & Brasiers, the Cutlers, the Fletchers and the Gunmakers, as well as by the CO of the 1st Battalion Mercian Regiment, Lt Col Mark Ellwood.

We were delighted afterwards to receive shortly afterwards this charming 'Ode' from John Allen, Clerk to the Gunmakers' Company, which we are pleased to reproduce here with his permission.

Ode on a Bowyers' Company Dinner

If invited to Bowyers you're onto a winner;
This was the night of their Agincourt dinner.
The venue was Cutlers, I know the place well,
Having served there as Clerk for a very long spell.

The battle was fought some six centuries ago
And won by King Henry through the use of the bow.
The archers showered arrows at the French opposition
And reduced them to tatters despite their condition.

My host was a Warden, the next to be Master;
The present incumbent is a military pastor.
They each serve for two years, quite why I don't know;
Whatever the reason it has always been so.

The Mercian Regiment was present in force;
They looked very smart in their mess kit, of course.
They've long been connected because of their roots
In the Forest of Sherwood, where they find their recruits.

Their chaplain said Grace and thanked God for our bread;
He's leaving St Botolphs for teaching instead.
We all took our places, the waiters filed in;
One filled my wine glass up to the brim.

We had Foie Gras for starter with toasted Brioche;
Then Brochettes of Sword Fish, it all sounded posh.
Next came the Grouse which was perfectly cooked;
The Grand Veneur Sauce was as good as it looked.

The dessert was delicious, a sharp Rhubarb Fool,
With Green Apple Sorbet that caused me to drool.
Coffee then followed, I passed on the port;
By now I had eaten much more than I ought.

One of their number, a General no less,
Rose to his feet and welcomed each guest.
He parodied Shakespeare, the bard would have smiled,
As he uttered a war cry his eyes looked quite wild.

The principal guest, who had served in Korea,
Explained how brave men can overcome fear.
I was listening intently to his tale of the war,
When my immediate neighbour slumped to the floor.

First Aid was delivered, he quickly came round;
We checked for a pulse and found it was sound.
I suspect that he'd fainted, due to the heat;
Within a few moments he was back on his feet.

I could not sign off without saying, 'Thank you',
To my generous host and your Company too.
I enjoyed every minute, it was over too quick;
This morning my head is a little bit thick.

John Allen
Clerk to the Gunmakers

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