Worshipful Company of Carmen

scite, cito, certe — skilfully, swiftly, surely
Hampton Court Palace Saturday 27 May 2017

Five years ago, our Master had a dream: a celebration at Hampton Court Palace which would tie together the quincentenary celebrations of both Hampton Court Palace and the Worshipful Company of Carmen, founded in 1517.

The Master then dreamed of a courtyard filled with costumed people, dressed in clothes of that period – and then suggested it could happen with the youngsters of Babette Langford’s “Young Set”. That spectacle could then be further enhanced with Pikemen, Musketeers and the HAC Light Cavalry. And then invite both Their Royal Highnessess Prince and Princess Michael of Kent as principal guests – and include some great entertainment.

Once it was clear that Marsha Rae was to be the Master for 2017, the button was pushed – and now the dream was underway. John Ratcliff was asked to be Chairman and all the above happened!

Hampton Court Palace is a notoriously difficult venue for any caterer, so well-known caterers, Seasoned Events were the perfect choice.

From the outset, John knew that he wanted the evening to conclude with entertainment that would work for the wide-ranging audience and be, above all, celebratory. Having already asked Rod Natkiel, a hugely experienced event producer, to take on this whole project, working closely throughout with our Clerk, John knew he was in good hands, as Rod has created this kind of show many times before. He did have Senior Past Master, Clive Birch, to assist with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Company’s history.  And so we were treated to a splendid 30-minute trip through our 500-year history in prose, poetry and music (of every type – from a composition by Henry VIII to jazz), performed by a line-up of top West End performers and beautifully narrated by Robert Powell.

The Master also suggested that, if Princess Michael accepted the invitation, every couple attending should receive a copy of one of her books – a gift sponsored by the Master, and made even more special by Princess Michael dedicating each copy personally to the guests receiving it.

And to finish off: a spectacular pyrotechnics display featuring music from the show the guests had just enjoyed and a magnificent pyrotechnic “set-piece” of our 500 year logo.

An early decision was not to include any fundraising on such a special night. If those attending had a good time, maybe they would subscribe to the new building at St. Dunstan-in-the-West after the Gala Banquet.

The celebration was born … and what a night it was!