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The 1469 Charter Anniversary Feast

On 13th May 1969 a 'Feast' was held in Middle Temple Hall to commemorate 500 years since the granting of a Royal Charter by Edward IV to The King's Minstrels in 1469. The evening was presented in the style of a 15th Century occasion.

In attendance as Principal Guest at this event was HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. Shown right is a photograph of her receiving a specially bound copy of the 1950 Musicians' Company Handbook from The Master, John Bird (Jack) Iles (click the image to expand). Shown left in picture is the Clerk and author of that Handbook, Brigadier H.A.F.Crewdson; in the background is the Beadle, Roy Day.

The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project

Shown left are the front and back of a single sheet programme/menu from the occasion.


A first hand account of the evening is presented by past Clerk, Richard Crewdson in the Company Handbook of 2000: Apollo's Swan and Lyre. It appears on page 233 and is presented below:

"A [...] substantial evening of food and music was arranged on 13 May 1969 at Middle Temple Hall, in commemoration of the grant of the Charter to the King's Minstrels 500 years before. This was during the Mastership of Jack Iles, and his principal guests were HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and Jennie Lee, Minister of Education. The intention of the evening was to give a flavour and impression of a late 15th Century banquet, and on consulting Philip Pickett and Ian Bent of the Guidhall School of Music & Drama, it was apparent that courses of music would typically have been sandwiched between courses of food.


The evening was programmed accordingly and the assembled Company was entertained to some hurdy-gurdy music before the main dish of roast poussin (the swan, being a protected bird, was 'off') which in turn was followed by some more 15th century instrumental music.


The sweet course which came next, in which the swan was presented in the form of a meringue, was the prelude to some Elizabethan consort songs. This still left time after the Feast for a selection of 16th century music, including music for brass consort, viol consort and partsongs, performed by the Jaye Consort and other musicians under the direction of Adrian Thorne."

Shown right is a 'Thank You' letter from the Her Royal Highness's Lady in Waiting (Jean Maxwell-Scott); it reads:


The Duchess of Gloucester has asked me to thank you and the Musicians' Company very much indeed for the beautifully bound copy of your History which you so kindly presented to her last night. Her Royal Highness is delighted to have it as a reminder of a very happy evening in celebration of your 500th Anniversary.


The Duchess has also asked me to thank you for the charming bouquet of flowers you gave her, and for entertaining her to such a delicious dinner.


May I take this opportunity of thanking you very much for so kindly including me among the guests at your "Feast".

The Musicians' Company Archive Project

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