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Bakers on Tour

The Master and Mistress Baker and a party of 25 Liverymen, partners and friends enjoyed an event packed weekend in Northern Ireland on 6-9 September.

The weekend kicked off with a private tour of Hillsborough Castle followed by dinner in the State Dining Room. Hillsborough Castle, in reality a magnificent Georgian country house, is a Royal Palace which has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Many pictures from the Royal collection are interspersed with personal photographs of the Royal Family and visiting Heads of State. Until direct rule in 1971, it was the Governor’s residence. Since 1971 it has been the base for 21 Secretaries of State. As such it has been visited, not just by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, but US Presidents and many other Heads of State. Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach, Garret Fitzgerald, signed the Anglo/Irish Accord here in 1985.

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Saturday saw the group travel through County Londonderry to the City of Derry where they were greeted in the Guildhall (yes, there is another one) by the Mayor. What followed was an informative but entertaining presentation on the involvement of the Livery Companies in the establishment of the new walled City of Londonderry which started in 1611. The Guildhall is enhanced by stained glass windows from the “Great 12” and other City of London bodies

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Next on the itinerary was a visit to St. Columb’s Cathedral, the first Anglican Cathedral built in Europe after the Reformation. In 1613 the Corporation of London cemented a promise to build a Cathedral for the new city by presenting the “Promise Chalice”. The promise was kept and the Cathedral was completed in 1632. The Bakers had the extreme privilege of having the 1613 Chalice brought out and passed around for close inspection. 

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A private lunch in the award-winning restaurant “Browns” followed. 

The final event of the day was a visit to Draperstown, which was established by the Worshipful Company of Drapers and the Worshipful Company of Skinners, with whom the White Bakers were associated for investment in the Londonderry Plantation. The visit was hosted by a local historian who is also the current High Sheriff of Londonderry.

Sunday started early with a private visit to Belfast City Hall. Opened in 1906, the magnificent building, with a central dome, modelled on St Paul’s Cathedral, and containing some stunning marble, bears testimony to the wealth of Belfast at the start of the 20th century. In addition to two major shipyards, Belfast had the world’s largest ropeworks; tobacco processors and manufacturers of cigarette rolling machines, textile manufacturing equipment, industrial fans, linen manufacturers – the list goes on and on, as did our guide, Dee!

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A visit to St George’s Market was followed by lunch at, and a tour of, the Titanic Experience where the phrase “she was all right when she left here” was heard often!

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Despite a rigorous schedule, members of the group also found time for several visits to a popular National Trust property, aka “The Crown”.

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The arrangements for the Bakers tour where made through the tour company “Go Global”. We would thoroughly recommend them to If anyone is contemplating a tour of Northern Ireland.

What next for the Bakers? 

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