The Furniture Makers’ Company has received a Royal Charter which recognises its pre-eminence, stability and permanence in its role in the furnishings industry. The Royal Charter on vellum, detailing the appointment, was presented to the Master, Jonathan Hindle, by The Lord Kirkham CVO at a formal dinner held in the elegant setting of Carpenters’ Hall.
A royal charter, a formal document, is issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a corporate body. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organisations such as cities (with municipal charters) or universities. Charters are more significant than warrants and letters of appointment, as they have perpetual effect.
The British monarchy has issued over 980 royal charters. Of these about 750 remain in existence. The earliest was to the town of Tain in 1066, making it the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland, followed by the University of Cambridge in 1231.
As a modern Livery Company granted Livery by the Court of Aldermen in 1963, the granting of a Royal Charter by Her Majesty the Queen recognises the reputation for excellence gained in a relatively short period by all the officers and members of the Company who are all current or past practitioners in the furnishings industry
The dinner, attended by nearly 200 Liverymen, Freemen, Corporate Members and their guests, maintained all the traditional features of a City function with a reception entered through a Guard of Honour found by musicians of affiliated regiment, 7 Rifles. On display was the ripple ash High Chair, designed and made by Katie Walker, to be presented to Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for the use of HRH Prince George. Katie was on hand to answer questions from the enthusiastic guests. Also on dislay were copies of the new definitive work 'Modern British Furniture' with the author Lesley Jackson in attendance to sign copies for purchase.
Fanfares then preceded the entrance of the Master, Wardens and principal guests to the banqueting room.
An appropriate Grace was offered by chaplain, the Reverend George Bush. The four course dinner was accompanied by wines chosen by The Furniture Makers Wine Committee. Piano music was played during the meal by Erika Gundersen from Guildhall School of Music and Drama At the end of the meal the guests joined in the Singing Grace and the ancient customs of the Rose Bowl and Loving Cup were celebrated.
Following the singing of the National Anthem, the Master proposed the toast to the Queen, the Senior Warden proposed the toast to the Royal Family and the Junior Warden proposed the civic toast to the Lord Mayor and to the Corporation of the City of London.
The Master, in then proposing the toast to the guests, highlighted the importance of the occasion and thanked all those who had contributed to the rapid development of a relatively young company. He was also pleased to point out the level of charitable giving which already matches the levels achieved by some older and more wealthy Companies.
The Principal Guest, Sir John Sorrell CBE, replying on behalf of the guests, highlighted the importance of design in the future of the nation and our industry. He urged everyone involved in the industry to help maintain the UK as the design centre of the world.
The Lord Kirkham then introduced his formal presentation of the Royal Charter document to the Master, emphasising the significance and great honour bestowed by the Queen upon the Furniture Makers’ Company in this 50th Anniversary year.
The Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Mr Richard Agutter, then proposed the toast to the Furniture Makers’ Company. This was acknowledged by the Master who invited all guests to join him in a Stirrup Cup which offered the opportunity for all to further enjoy the company of friends and colleagues on the most memorable event of The Furniture Makers Company's year.