Worshipful Company of Carmen

scite, cito, certe — skilfully, swiftly, surely


The Carmen’s 500th year reached an unique climax on Friday 13 October, when a 125 year renewable lease for a Grade 1 property on Fleet Street was signed. Carmen have now secured a permanent home, to further their charitable work. 

The Master accepted the keys to the Old School Building at St Dunstan in the West from the churchwardens, in the church, with the blessing of the Venerable Luke Miller, Archdeacon of London.

Some forty Carmen, including Master, Wardens, Chairman of the Benevolent Trust, and the trustees of the new Carman heritage charity, with Past Masters, almost all Assistants below the chair, and other Liverymen, witnessed the ceremony and joined in thanksgiving alongside churchwardens and other officers of the church, and  of the Archdeaconry of London.

The Master’s consort, Past Master Emeritus John Ratcliff, who first identified the Old School’s potential in 2013, and tirelessly undertook  enquiries, discussions and negotiations with the church, planners and experts, showed Carmen the premises and, with Liveryman and architect Robert Butterfield, detailed plans, costs and future philanthropic use. Immediate Past Master Mark Griffiths explained the legal position. PM Ratcliff emphasised the immense contribution made by IPM Griffiths and Liveryman Butterfield, totally pro bono.

Head of Archdeaconry Operations in the Office of the Bishop of London, Martin Sargeant took the chair and led the lease signing ceremony in the church, before a champagne reception. Rev Dr Barry Orford, Guild Vicar, led prayers. 

Martin Sargeant spoke of the marriage between partners – Carmen and St Dunstan – of the honourable tenor of the past four years and the beneficial future path of both partners together. Parish Clerk David Powell spoke of the hard work of all concerned and welcomed Carmen to the St Dunstan’s family.

A presentation was made to Harriet Ainsworth of Bircham Dyson Bell for her diligence in forming the new trust and achieving charity commission approval, and thanks were given to Catherine Ellerby, Martin’s PA, to the five trustees – John Ratcliff, Mark Griffiths, Robert Butterfield, the Master and the Senior Past Master, the Hon Treasurer, Assistant Mark Ivinson,  2017 Chairman Past Master Neil Coles and the Clerk, all of whom had been deeply and continuously involved. 

Past Master Ratcliff hailed the event as ‘history in the making’ and looked forward to Carmen’s financial support – more donations were needed to add to the £43,000+ raised by the original Legacy Appeal before the site was known and lease agreed. Overall, £700,000 had been paid or promised, about halfway to the initial target. 

The Old School will include a  panelled Gallery and Court Room, a Museum and Library, educational workspaces, offices for both Trusts and Company, an eight person disability compliant lift, and restoration of the church’s statues of mediaeval King Lud and his sons in the vestibule. There will be members’ facilities to meet, and to organise charitable work and fundraising, storage, and archives.