July 27th 2016
In the year 1345, several members of the medieval fraternity of
Gardeners who were selling their produce within the environs of St
Paul’s Cathedral were expelled from the area for causing an affray. The
seriousness of the event was such that it is believed to have
contributed to the delay in the Gardeners being granted their first
Charter of Letters Patent until 1605. A second revised Charter was
drawn up in 1616.
There appears to have been no formal apology made by the Gardeners for this reprehensible behaviour until now, 671 years later, when the newly installed Master Gardener and his Clerk were made aware of the fact that Alderman Sheriff Charles Bowman and Sheriff Dr. Christine Rigden would generously – and bravely – volunteer to tour the City on horseback on Wednesday, 27th July 2016.
On the day, the Alderman Sherriff and Sherriff rode out in Shrieval kit, complete with swords, and in the company of a mounted escort of officers of the HAC Light Cavalry and the City of London police.
Having learned that along its way, the Shrieval Cavalcade would stop at the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Master Gardener Paul Rochford and his Clerk made plans to greet the party, and to offer an apology for the behaviour of their predecessors. Clad in full regalia and accompanied by a trusty band of Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, the Master and Clerk gathered on the cathedral steps and a scroll was read out by Charles Henty, Under-Sheriff and Secondary of London, whose job it is to run the Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey, and in reparation, a significant sum was contributed to the Sheriffs’ Just Giving page.
The Master Gardener’s party then moved across to inspect two newly planted plane trees on the west side of the Cathedral. One was planted by Past Master Tom Gough and the other, marking the granting of the Company's first charter, was planted by Past Master Rod Petty and Upper Warden Bill Fraser, and the late Renter Warden Sir Gavyn Arthur, who was remembered with great affection.
The group then proceeded with lightened hearts and joyful steps to find refreshment after their morning’s efforts.