For our 61st London Dinner we made our first visit to The Crypt of St. Etheldreda’s Church, Holborn. The venue is six hundred years old and the location of King Henry VIII’s three-day wedding feast in 1531. A record attendance of 121 members met on the outdoor terrace for pre-dinner drinks (generously sponsored by President Chris) before moving down into The Crypt to dine. Before starting our meal we were treated to two medieval madrigals expertly sung by Keith Spenceley (Tuscany, 1973-1980), Ashley Thompson (Sparta, 1998-2005) and Robert Samuels (Sparta, 1974-1981) and accompanied by Joe Zammit (Tuscany, 2004-2011) on the piano. Grace was provided by Malcolm Hiscock (Tuscany, 1973-1978). The excellent meal comprised seatrout and Scottish salmon rillettes, cucumber and dill; Roast rump of Suffolk lamb, caramelised root vegetables, Bleeding Heart rooftop rosemary jus; Passion fruit cheesecake; Coffee and Petits fours.
As our usual MC, Chris, was the evening’s President he was ably replaced by President Designate, Andy Crow (Athens, 1974-1981) who stage managed the event and regularly invited selected guests to take wine with Chris; these included his two cousins, Philip Sorrell (Sparta, 1970-1977) and Richard Sorrell (Sparta, 1974-1981), the most travelled member Sylviane Duval (Sparta, 1980-1982) from Canada and the unique London Dinner toast to the “oldest and youngest”, taken with John Collings (Sparta, 1944-1950) and Edward (Woody) Marron (2012-2019), the latter left school that Summer and was off to start at Exeter University the following week. The toast to Absent Friends remembered those unable to join us this year.
President Chris then gave a short speech to round of the evening before those present sung the school song and Old Lang Syne, again accompanied by Joe Zammit on the piano.
At the conclusion of the formal events, members left for home or to continue the evening in Town. Those taking the coach back to Southend enjoyed a circuitous journey home.