Two original folios of the Great Parchment Book were on display at a reception at Girdlers’ Hall on Monday 8 May 2017 held by the Honourable The Irish Society for the City of London livery companies and the City of London. The reception provided an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the Honourable The Irish Society’s charitable grants programme and mission to strengthen the special relationship between the City of London and Northern Ireland that has existed for over 400 years. Guests were invited to reconnect to a shared history, and engage with the continuing social and economic development of the Province.
A piper from the 1st Battalion the Irish Guards provided a musical accompaniment to the start of the evening, before guests were welcomed by The Reverend Sir George Newton, Bt, Master of the Worshipful Company of Girdlers. Quietly passionate speeches from Alderman Sir David Wootton, Governor of the Irish Society and Deputy Henry Pollard, Deputy Governor followed, with Mr William Charnley, master of the Worshipful Company of Drapers talking about his own company’s contribution to charitable causes in Northern Ireland through the Irish Society. The Girdlers’ Company Beadle, Robert Young, was master of ceremonies and cheerfully, but firmly kept us all in order.
There was much interest in the folios of the Great Parchment Book on display. The City of London, eight of the Great Twelve of the City of London livery companies and the Irish Society had all contributed to the project to conserve and digitally reconstruct the book, and it was a pleasure to talk about this important source for the history of Northern Ireland, and the project to make it accessible again after 200 years, to members of the livery companies which are represented in the book.
The two folios displayed were of Fishmongers’ Company lands (folios F7v and F8r) chosen as much for their physical appearance (distortion, shrunken text, evidence of singeing) as much as content. A modern transcription of the pages taken from the Great Parchment Book website was supplied. The folios were carefully presented under a bespoke Perspex dome sitting on the Tyvek sheets which usually support them in their bespoke packaging. This gave guests the rare opportunity to view the original folios at close quarters, at the same time keeping them safe. Philippa Smith from London Metropolitan Archives was on hand throughout the evening to keep a close eye on the folios as well as to answer questions.
Thanks go to Robert Young, Beadle of the Girdlers’ Company and his staff for looking after the folios in secure storage before the after the event, and to the support of the Irish Society, especially Edward Montgomery, Secretary, who had suggested London Metropolitan Archives should bring the folios along to the event.