Coachlines - March 2024

29.03.24 The Master Bettine Evans

Master’s message March 2024

Greetings fellow Liverymen. It seems ages since we last spoke. For a change, let me tell you a little about life before becoming Master Coachmaker.

When I was chair of the 350+ Committee, one of our first actions, leading to our 350th anniversary in May 2027, was to ask Past Master Group Captain Marcus Wills CVO OBE to re-write and otherwise edit our Charter, the aim being to make its requirements and ordinances fit for the 21st century and beyond.

His brief was to modernise the contents while maintaining the tradition and dignity of ancient procedures and language. The result is an amalgam of ancient and modern, taking full advice and account from several other such documents including totally new charters or updates of much older documents by other companies. It is a masterly renewal.

For me, to carefully read the original Charter which you can see in the history section of our website, was equally instructive and enjoyable. The process made me reflect on the past and how our consistent ongoing Livery activities are, genuinely, part of the history of the City of London. They reflect both our origins and the modern day industries which coach making has spawned.

Truly, it all started with the Charter and the Grant of Arms, by King Charles II, through the warrant of the Earl Marshal. And let me say as firmly as I may, that our Coat of Arms is emphatically not a logo or brand identity. It is a heraldic device rooted in history, and each one of us is required to treat it as a singularly important honour bestowed on every Freeman and Liveryman of our Company. It demands, and must be treated with, our respect.

Having been considered carefully by the Court, the ordinances are being updated and the re-worded Charter is undergoing its final checks before it is submitted to the Aldermen in Guildhall. It will be painstakingly perused word by word and line by line by learned persons so that it will remain suitable and fit for purpose for another 350 years.

Being your Master absolutely involves visits, attendance at events, meetings and more rich meals than one might think possible. All of these are interesting, most are enjoyable, and some are an absolute delight.

Yet my mind is always focussed on that brief time I spent reading the original Charter and thinking myself both a tiny cog in the history of this wonderful company and, at the same time, so fortunate to be your Master.