On one of the last warm and sunny days of the summer, about 60 of us gathered at the Lord Mayor’s entrance to The Old Bailey (the back door!). We assembled in the Great Hall for a glass of champagne and were able to admire this most beautiful of decorated spaces. This is the area in the Old Bailey outside the Courts where barristers meet their colleagues and clients. The Master, Fran Davies, greeted us all, thanked us all for attending, and shared some information about obtaining our Grant of Arms. Sheriff Christopher Hayward and his consort Alexandra, a Freeman of our Company, split us into two smaller groups for a personal guided tour. This included, Number One Court - the most famous Court in the land, a more modern court, the cells, the back entrance for the defendants and the menacing “Dead man’s Walk”, reportedly the corridor where condemned prisoners were taken to be hanged. It was so special to be able to hear the history of the Old Bailey as well as personal stories from Alex and Chris about their experiences of living there during their extended term of office.
After the tour, we enjoyed a delightful and plentiful afternoon tea in the Judge’s dining room where we were able to see the Coats of Arms of all the previous Sheriffs. Chris explained how he made the decisions regarding his own Coat of Arms and how the Herald of the College of Arms incorporated his preferences and interests into the design.
This was a fantastic event to launch the Company’s Grant of Arms appeal. We were privileged to have been invited by Alex Hayward, in what was her and Chris’ very last week in office. Thank you to Alex and Chris for entertaining us so well and for helping us get the appeal off to such a good start!