History Uncovered (& Rather Unprotected Too) – The Baron Of Beef Ceremony

I was startled in a delightful way to see a Baron of Beef ceremony at the Carpenters’ Hall Livery Dinner for the new Lord Mayor on 16 November 2016. Two strapping fellows from the kitchens bore a haunch of beef to the front of the hall, whereupon the chef carved off a slice, consumed it, and then quaffed a pint of ale with the Master. The cut was ‘top sirloin’, also known as the ‘baron of beef’. Some naval dinners, such as Trafalgar Nights, have this tradition, but the Carpenters appear to be the only livery company that does this. As no one seemed to know the origins, upon my return home some rummaging behind my history book collection somehow produced the following. Bits of the following may be true:

“On Thursday, 6 September 1666, looking south from their hall across the wasteland of ash that was formerly London, and the devastated remains of the Lord Mayor’s home, the Carpenters’ cook wondered how to feed their new guest, the Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Bloodworth.  Spying a roasted ox that had got caught in the fire on the small strip separating the Carpenters from the now smouldering Drapers’ Hall, he decided to serve the Lord Mayor the ox that very evening.  But while carving up the scavenged, barbequed beast, the Master caught him and forced the Cook to prove on pain of dysentery that it was still fit for human consumption… And thus was the Baron of Beef ceremony born(e).”