On 13 June, a group of members and guests visited the Charterhouse in Clerkenwell. The Charterhouse was built in 1371 as a Carthusian monastery which flourished during the later medieval and early Tudor period. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the Charterhouse became a mansion for wealthy noblemen. In 1611, it was bought by Thomas Sutton who converted it into an almshouse for seamen, soldiers and merchants who had fallen on hard times (the Brothers) and a school. The school was moved to Godalming in 1872 but the almshouse continues today.

We enjoyed a very interesting tour with our excellent guide who not only described the fascinating history of the Charterhouse but also brought the tour to life with many stories which included providing a refuge away from the centre of London for Elizabeth I and later, James I.

On 18 May a group of members and guests walked from Battersea Power Station to the Chelsea Physic Garden. The walk was led by Angela Waddingham who gave us an interesting tour of the new development at the Power Station and then led us along the Thames, over Chelsea Bridge to the Chelsea Physic Garden where we enjoyed lunch outside in the beautiful gardens. Angela talked about the many landmarks on our route, including the American Embassy, the new development at Chelsea Barracks and the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

On 19 April a group of WOCC members and guests visited Marble Hill on the banks of the River Thames in Twickenham.  This Georgian house was built by Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, who is best known as a mistress of George II.  The house is now owned by English Heritage.  The President, Patricia Edmunds, who is a guide with English Heritage, led the tour of this fascinating house.

On 21 February 2023, the Ward Club, in conjunction with the Bank Churches, hosted a meeting at St. Vedast-alias-Foster Church in the City.  Past President Adrian Waddingham gave a talk about his recent book ‘Breakspear The English Pope’, the story of Nicholas Breakspear who was elected as Pope Adrian IV in 1154, the only Englishman to have held this office.

The talk was introduced by the Revd. Paul Kennedy, Rector of St. Vedast, and the vote of thanks was given by the President, Patricia Edmunds.

The Ward Club held a business breakfast on 1 March 2023 when Richard Burge, the Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry spoke about the global challenges facing the City of London in 2023.

The event was sponsored by the Cheapside Business Alliance and held at Saddlers’ Hall.

The Club hosted a business breakfast on Thursday 10th June at the Guildhall, in conjunction with and sponsored by the Cheapside Business Alliance.

35 of us, including Club members, guests, workers and residents from within the Ward heard from the Chamberlain of London, Caroline Al-Bayerty, about her role and some of the challenges faced by the City in its many guises. The phrase ‘ there is so much more than meets the eye’ could easily have been coined for talking about the City and its finances. Caroline reminded us that while the role is essentially that of Finance Director, she also has a key part to play in the ‘Silent Ceremony’ when the new Lord Mayor is admitted to office each year, and when she presents the symbolic items of crystal sceptre, sword, purse and seal to be touched by the new Lord Mayor. Guests were reminded about the purpose of our Club and, encouragingly, a number subsequently showed interest in applying to join us.

Club members and guests were treated to a really interesting and enjoyable voyage of discovery by Anne and Andrew Keates on May 11th 2022, as they took us round a number of the small and sometimes not-so-small City gardens, including Postman’s Park, the Charterhouse garden and glorious Christ Church Greyfriars Church garden, to name but a few.

We couldn’t linger but we could have spent much more time in each of them, soaking up the current peace and quiet – and also the staggering history of most of them.

We then removed to the Butchers’ Hall for their traditional carvery lunch and some easy chat.

The Club visited the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) on Wednesday 20th April 2022.

Our tour was hosted by the Officer Commanding, Light Cavalry, Honourable Artillery Company, Alan Willis. Alan has been the Officer Commanding for 8 years and has a continuous history of escorting the Lady Mayoress in the Lord Mayor’s Show for almost 40 years. His knowledge is second to none and his enthusiasm is infectious. The HAC has a very long history which will not be recounted now. The museum covers several centuries, and the medal room is something to behold.

After the tour we joined the soldiers for Drill Supper and lively conversation.

Our sincere thanks was given to Alan Willis and also a donation to the HAC charity, by the club.

On Wednesday 23rd March a Wardmote was held at Wax Chandlers’ Hall and it was my pleasure to take the Chair as Alderman for the Ward and act as Returning Officer at the uncontested election of Common Councillors for the Ward.

This year’s election was unusual in two respects; first, the term that candidates were elected for is three years, which differs from the standard four year term because the last term was extended by 12 months to five years due to Covid-19. Secondly, the election in Cheap was uncontested, unlike the vast majority c.20 of other Wards that had contested elections.

As a result, I am delighted to report that candidates and incumbents Nick Benstead-Smith, Tijs Broeke and Alastair Moss were all successfully returned. Congratulations to them! In many ways the fact the election was uncontested is testimony to their hard work on behalf of the electorate, workers and residents in the Ward over the last few years. I believe it also reflects the strength of the Ward team and the cohesive and collegiate nature of the relationships, which is not something that can always be taken for granted but one that I, as Alderman, am extremely grateful for. I am sure we all wish them well for this term of office and say, “keep up the good work!”.

I am also pleased to confirm that I have appointed Alastair Moss as Deputy once again and am grateful to him for undertaking this role.

At the Wardmote we were pleased to welcome a few voters from the Ward who, after hearing from the candidates, were able to ask questions and raise issues and concerns.

As usual the Wardmote was expertly organised by the Ward Clerk, David Cox, and I was in the right place at the right time in the right order of dress thanks to my Beadle, Bob Lovell. We were also very grateful to the Wax Chandlers for kindly providing the venue for the Wardmote.

Elsewhere in the City, on Thursday 24th March, election day, there were a number of significant changes and departures. These included the loss of the Chairman of Finance and two former Chairmen of Finance – I wonder whether anyone is going to be brave enough to step into their shoes given these apparent omens. However, the departures also mean a significant number of individuals have been elected for the first time and we look forward to getting to know them and work with them in the months ahead.

Robert Hughes-Penney, Alderman
Patron, Ward of Cheap Club

Club members and their guests were treated to a fascinating tour of St Paul’s Cathedral in early March 2022.

Our guide told us that, with a party of 14, we were the largest guided group to visit the cathedral since before the pandemic. Yvonne, our guide was most entertaining and knowledgeable, showing us a variety of public and private areas including the Dean’s stairs, otherwise known as the Geometric staircase, designed by Wren in 1705. Some members admitted to recognising the staircase from the film Paddington! After the tour of the ground floor and also the Crypts we were given tea and cakes in the Chapter House before returning to the Cathedral to sit in the Quire for sung evensong – a rare treat. Predictably the tour passed all too quickly and we all felt that there was so much else to take in. Another time! We finished the day at Pizza Express for a jolly supper and jovial conversation.

The Club visited the Goldsmiths’ Hall on Tuesday 22nd February 2022 and 23 members benefited from the tour given by Mr Simon Hutchinson MBE, the Deputy Clerk of the Company.

His knowledge and enthusiasm was in abundance and gave us a relaxed, sociable and educational experience of the Hall. This focused primarily on the main rooms and did not include the Assay office, for security reasons. As Simon pointed out this was not a reflection upon the integrity of the Club’s members! We learned about the history of the building, it’s paintings and some of the astonishing craftwork. The photos show the club members who enjoyed the afternoon and also the key plates that sit behind the Prime Warden at Livery dinners and occasions such as the Trial of the Pyx.

The Club donated a portion of the Club’s event cost to the Goldsmiths’ 1327 fund, a charitable fund set up to mark the forthcoming 700 years of the Company and help educational endeavour in the craft.

Members repaired to Haz for tea and reflections on the tour afterwards.

Guitar Recital

15 members of the Club enjoyed a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral on 11th March, led by our President Charles Ledsam and his wife Debbie. We enjoyed the services of a volunteer guide, Janet Payne, who did an excellent job in showing us some of the hidden treasures of the cathedral which many of us will have visited on numerous occasions, but doubtless missed some of the detail.

We started in the Chapel of St. Michael and St. George where Janet described the beautiful carvings and the role of the Order, which mainly comprises former senior diplomats or members of the military.

We moved to a magnificent spiral staircase near an entrance used occasionally by the Queen when she wanted to avoid the main steps. The individual stairs in this stone structure were only set 4 inches into the walls and each cantilever structure was supported by the next lower until a firm structure was reached. This on over 100 steps was an astonishing feat of engineering – and faith, at least the first time you had ot walk on them!.

Something many visitors will have passed by, despite its size, is the enormous white marble font designed by Francis Bird in 1726. Janet explained that it is sometimes referred to as “The Bird Bath” – it would probably take an albatross sized bird!

We learned that the original structure as left by Wren was plain white and that the mosaic ceilings above the quire were additions in the late 19th century, a response to Queen Victoria complaining how “dull, dingy and undevotional“ the place was. Janet also explained how the cathedral had been cleaned of centuries of grime from candles by the use of latex to remove the soot particles.

The tour finished in the crypt which is something of a hidden gem. The most spectacular items contained are the tombs (an insufficiently grand phrase to describe enormous marble and granite structures) of Wellington and Nelson. But there are tombs or memorials to the great and good of the English over centuries. For example you can stand on the tomb of Parry (he of Jerusalem), which is next to that of Sir Arthur Sullivan (this writer could not spot anything for WS Gilbert, who does have a memorial on the Embankment) and close to a memorial to Sir Alexander Fleming (he of penicillin fame). There are also memorials to the painters Reynolds, Turner and Milais, the poet Blake, and Florence Nightingale. A whimsical thought provoked by the immense diversity of the great and good who have tombs or memorials in the Crypt is “What sort of committee decides who gets a place, and where it goes?”

Janet had a portfolio of photos and pictures of St. Paul’s thorough the ages, of which some of the most remarkable were those showing the effects of bombing during World War II. The overwhelming impression was how lucky we are that more of the bombs did not detonate, and the bravery of those on the ground at the time who dealt with them. The previous Victorian altarpiece was one of the areas that did suffer bomb damage, and the present high altar dates from 1958, with a baldacchino based on that in St. Peter’s in Rome.

After a break for well earned refreshments we were installed in stalls in the Quire for Evensong. By this stage the late evening sun was streaming through the West Window, casting long shadows in the nave. We could enjoy the service, including excellent singing by the boy choristers of the Nunc Dimitis and Stabat Mater, doing their best against the notorious St Paul’s echo. The acoustics were probably made worse by the shortage of other visitors as a result of the coronavirus.

After the service we moved for supper to Pizza Express just off Cheapside. Thanks are due to our President for an excellent outing.

Friday 20th September 2019

A hardy group of intrepid 7 Members assemble at the hotel, the Maid’s Head Hotel for a welcome drink at the bar and excellent dinner at the Wine Press restaurant. The Maid’s Head claims to be oldest hotel in England. The hotel was mentioned frequently in the C J Sanson historical novel, Tombland, featuring the lawyer, Matthew Shardlake.

Saturday 21st September

After a fortifying breakfast, we report for a group photo before embarking on a mini bus to the Forum and met our guide for a walking tour. We started at the Market Square, walked past the City Hall (where Adolf Hitler would have made his East England HQ had he won WW2) and viewed the St Peter Mancroft Church, and entered to inspect its beautiful interior and rare 16th Flemish tapestry in excellent condition. We proceeded to the Guildhall (second largest in England) which served as a Court house, debtors’ prison, and HQ of the City constabulary. We paused outside an entrance to a former goldsmith’s shop (the stone was pillaged from a dissolved monastery) and inspected a whipping chain for the unfortunate miscreants of a bygone age!

Proceeding on, we walked through the fine Victorian Royal Arcade and dived into the mediaeval backstreets of Elm Hill, admired a flint covered mansion the Bridewell, and see some original Flemish weavers’ cottages (the City ‘s symbol, the canary, is derived from the canaries the weavers kept to accompany their work). We strolled past the River Wensum and towards Tombland and admire Augustus Seward House (the numbered timbers at the back showed one of the first examples offsite building prefabrication!).

Then onto the Cathedral, to admire the architectural glory of Norwich, the highest tower in England (the spire is the third survivor). Our cathedral guide shepherded our group for a fascinating tour of the cloisters, encouraged us to look up at the magnificent roof bosses, mediaeval altar panels, choir stalls (one of the misericords shows a cook trying to stop a fox stealing food, whilst behind her a pig is sticking his snout into the cooking pot). We could have spent more time there! But now, we wanted some free time to roam around the City, look for our own lunch venues (but not spoiling our appetites for dinner later) and relax.

A comfortable 52 seater coach picked us up from the hotel for the short trip the Assembly House, where we enjoyed a fine three course dinner in an atmospheric private dining room, the Hobart Room, sampled our delicious three course dinner, amid the period features of the original Georgian fireplace, sash windows and décor. We returned to our capacious coach for the return trip to the Maid’s Head, for a comfortable night’s sleep after a very satisfying day.

Sunday 22nd September

After another good breakfast, we clambered aboard our spacious coach for the transfer to the Sandringham Estate. Before entering, we inspected the wares of a local farmers’ market. We approached the main entrance for a group photo. We stepped inside before being sternly warned that no indoor photography is permitted. We admired the interior, are amused by the weighing stool Edward VII used for his guests to see how much weight they had gained during their stay! The rooms contain fine furniture, ceramics, paintings yet it retained a homely, intimate charm, not at all overwhelming.

We enjoyed a stroll around the beautifully kept gardens, and some of us had time to go to the Sandringham Exhibition and Transport Museum.

Time for a roast lunch at the Café and Coffee shop, where most of us chose locally reared Sandringham Roast Lamb as our main course.

Finding that we had enough time left, we explored one of the most famous parish churches in the world, St Mary Magdalene, admired the sumptuously decorated chancel, the silver pulpit and the many memorials.

Time up and we returned to our capacious coach and a final trip to the Maid’s Head in Norwich, where we said our thanks and farewells, took away our fond memories of an interesting itinerary and renewed our friendship.

15 persons assembled for the somewhat chaotic embarkation at Embankment Pier to board the Glass Room boat operated by Bateaux London, to the accompaniment of a jazz band and a welcome prosecco. The boat travelled at first upstream, and turned near the Houses of Parliament to head downstream, through Tower Bridge, past HMS Belfast, Wapping, Isle of Dogs, Cutty Sark and then to the O2 before returning to Embankment Pier.

A special premier 5 course lunch was served and consumed amid the leisurely atmosphere of the jazz band as wonderful sights slipped gently by. All too soon, the trip ended but our club members disembarked with the pleasant memories of a nautical Sunday afternoon excursion, convivial company and first class cuisine.

26 walkers rendezvoused at St Paul’s tube station to be led by our experienced guide, Kevin Larder of “Real London Walks”. The theme was to explore places around Smithfield that most people would not notice or take a second glance. These included Panyer Alley (and the Panyer Boy bas relief next to Café Nero), Paternoster Square (look for the vents at the base of the Monument), Temple Bar, Postman’s Park (and the memorial of glazed tablets established by GF Watts, commemorating acts of bravery), St Vedast and its tranquil courtyard garden (with Roman pavement and an unexpected sculpture of a bust by Jacob Epstein), the Watch House overlooking St Sepulchre’s (to guard against body snatchers!), the Golden Boy of Pye Corner (marking the westerly extent of the Fire of London), Smithfield (and the memorial for William Wallace) and finally Charterhouse Square (including the burial ground of the Great Plague uncovered by Crossrail excavations).

After so much exploring, it was time for lunchtime refreshment at the nearby Vestry, where 21 walkers took their leisure in a converted vesting room of St Sepulchre’s to sample a delicious three course lunch and quality wines.