After the splendid Ladies' Banquet this year where Mary Berry CBE became Free of the Worshipful Company of Bakers
and was gowned as an Honorary Liveryman, she has now progressed in her engagement with the City and Bakers' Company.
Tuesday 18 November 2014 saw a large gathering at Guildhall, including the Master and Mrs Bentley as well as Liveryman Suzanne Jones, the Clerk and the Beadle, first for a Question & Answer session with Guildhall staff and others where Mary answered a series of questions about her life, work, baking, broadcasting and commitment to both the craft and education. Then it was on to the Chamberlain's Court for the next stage … or so we thought.
At the critical moment, the fire alarms sounded and all Guildhall piled out into the surrounding roadways – luckily into sunshine. Quickly identified as a false alarm, the Chamberlain denied all knowledge of it being a dig at the Bakers and their (as seen on ITV) Great Fire heritage on this, another big day for the Bakers' Company!
When all settled down, the Chamberlain of London, Dr Peter Kane, and his Clerk, Murray Craig, took Mary through the ancient ceremony to make her Free of the City and then explained her rights in that privileged position – carrying a drawn sword to fend off ruffians, the right to an escort home if 'under the weather from drink' in the City and others – as well as the responsibility to trade fairly and honestly, maintain the peace and support the Lord Mayor.
Once Mary was Free of the City, she had completed the requirements to become a full Liveryman of the Bakers. Therefore, the Chamberlain handed over his Court to the Master, Mr David Bentley, who took Mary through a short ceremony to confirm her transfer from Honorary to full Liveryman and she was gowned in the Livery of the Company - now with the right to be so clothed outside the confines of the Company.
With the Court back in the hands of the Chamberlain, the many guests - Mary's family and friends, the Bakers and others - were led in a toast to the 'youngest Freeman of the City' (in terms of 'time in'!). The Clerk to the Chamberlain's Court then showed all a series of items from the collection at the Guildhall relating to both cookery and other famous figures receiving the Freedom in the past – one fascinating thing coming to light was that Mary Berry now joins Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the only two people who are Freemen of both the City of London and the City of Bath!!
Then on to lunch for the select few to close a memorable day for both the Bakers and their newest Liveryman.