Sarah Lancaster installed as WCL Master

10 August 2022



The second female Master in the history of the WCL was invested at Shakespeare’s local church, the historic Southwark Cathedral, adjacent to the Globe Theatre


You can’t beat the UK for a bit of pomp and pageantry and in Platinum Jubliee Year the textile care profession was not to be left behind. On Monday, 20 June, the Worshipful Company of Launderers (WCL) elected its new Master for the year June 2022 - 2023. It is approximately 20 years since the Company had a female Master, Margaret Sheppard, so, it was with much enthusiasm and goodwill that Sarah Lancaster of Total Laundry was elected as the second in its history.

The Wardens of the Court for the next 12 months are most recent Past Master, Deputy Master Kenneth Cupitt, Senior Warden Simon Fordham and Renter Warden Andrew Doyle.

Following the Election Court and Installation Ceremony, at Glaziers Hall (which WCL shares with the Glaziers) there was a short reception before the Master and Company and guests processed to Southwark Cathedral for the Company’s annual Evensong service which included an Act of Dedication by the new Master. The service was conducted by the Company Chaplain, the Dean of Southwark, The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn.

There was a surprise appearance during the ceremony from the Cathedral cat, Hodge, which unexpectedly appeared in the choir and processed down the steps to greet Master Lancaster where she sat prior to her dedication. The greeting was taken by all as a good omen as a cat figures prominently in the company’s coat of arms along with the words Cleanliness is next to Godliness’.

Due to the transport difficulties imposed by the national rail strike taking effect later in the evening, the celebratory dinner was a little shorter than usual, but nonetheless, contained all the key elements, including the new Master’s inaugural speech, a speech by Clara Gill of Marie Curie, Master’s Charity for the year.

The Deputy Master, Ken Cupitt, toasted the guests which included a newly elevated Court Assistant, Graham Oakley and newly elected Liveryman, Ruth Mitchell.

Emeritus Professor Martin Snaith OBE, FREng, MA, BAI, MSc, PhD, ScD, FICE, FIHT responded on behalf of the guests with Senior Past Master Melvyn Rogers closing the evening with the toast to the Company.

One of the major objects of City Livery Companies is benevolence. Events are fun and also an opportunity to swell charitable coffers. In the years ended 31 March 2021, the Worshipful Company of Launderers Benevolent Fund (an authorised charity) contributed over £35,000 to various causes. This included many donations to be used within the London Borough of Southwark, the City and individuals who have worked within the laundry industry requiring support, as well as grants by the Education Fund for Travelling Scholarships.

Each year, the Master additionally nominates their own special charity. This year it will be Marie Curie.

  • The WCL is looking to expand its ranks of laundry men and women so if you or anyone in your organisation is interested in being involved in this historic Livery Company, for further information, please contact the Clerk [email protected].

COOL CAT: Southwark Cathedral’s resident feline, Hodge, gave his blessing to the proceedings


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