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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Going to a formal dinner

This evening I will be journeying up to the City of London to attend a formal dinner at Waterman’s Hall.

The dinner is to celebrate the appointment of several Hertfordshire Freemasons (including me) to what is termed ‘Grand Rank’. I already have an active Provincial Grand Rank (I am the Provincial Grand Orator or ProvGOrat), but Grand Rank is awarded by the United Grand Lodge of England and Wales (UGLE) on the recommendation of the Province. As a result, I am now a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) and these letters now appear after my name in Masonic communications.

Interestingly, the closest I have ever been to being a genuine Director of Ceremonies was the year I spent as the Deputy DC in my Mother Lodge … which in reality meant that I was the DC’s ‘gopher’ during Lodge meetings. I wasn’t that good in the role, which is probably why I only lasted a year before being given another office in the Lodge.


My family has a rather distant link with Waterman's Hall. The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames is a City Guild that is without a Grant of Livery, and its original role was to oversee the apprenticeships of all Watermen and Lightermen operating on the River Thames, and to govern the work undertaken by Guild members. A Waterman was a river worker who transferred passengers across and along the river, and a Lighterman was a river worker who transferred goods between ships moored on the river and the quays, wharves, jetties and piers lining it.

Every year six apprentice Watermen compete for the Doggett Coat and Badge Wager. This is a race that has been held since 1715, and the winner is awarded a Watermen's red coat on which is a silver badge. The latter shows the horse of the House of Hanover and the word 'Liberty' in honour of George I's ascension to the throne in 1714. The award was created by Thomas Doggett, an Irish actor and comedian, who is reputed to have inaugurated the race and the prize after he was rescued from drowning by a passing waterman. Surprisingly, the race is overseen by the Fishmonger's Company, which is one of the Liveried Companies.

My family's link is that a very distant relative, one Harry Cordery of Putney, won the Doggett Coat and Badge Wager in 1879. Since then, several of my family have worked on the River Thames as Watermen and Lightermen, as have members of my wife's family.

4 comments:

  1. I trust you will be wearing your tropical mess jacket?

    Enjoy

    Simon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simon,

      I wish! We all had to wear dinner jackets, stiff shirts, and bow ties! Not the best kit to wear on such a hot day.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Congratulations! I hope it is an enjoyable dinner and event.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      Cheers! The meal and the company were excellent, although eating in a roomful of men wearing formal dress meant that we all got very hot … which was made worse by the fact that the building doesn’t have air conditioning!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete

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