21 March 2014

The Founder’s Day Service has been supported for four centuries by one of the great Livery Companies of the City of London, the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers’, and The Princess Royal will be attending as Court Assistant to the Fishmongers’ Company.

Historically, the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers was granted £100 in a will made by Archbishop Whitgift’s former Chaplain in 1613 (with which he had family connections) and the interest from this sum was to be used to pay for an annual Founder’s Day Service, a preacher, a fish supper and other good causes.

The Service gives thanks to the charity’s Founder, Archbishop John Whitgift, whose mission to provide education for the young and care for the elderly has supported thousands in Croydon’s community since the first foundation stones were laid on 22nd March 1596, at the Hospital of the Holy Trinity (now known as the Whitgift Almshouses). 

On arrival, The Princess Royal will watch the Corps of Drums from Whitgift School before joining Year 7s from Whitgift, Trinity and Old Palace Schools and residents of the Foundation’s care homes for a special Service conducted by The Reverend Canon Colin Boswell, Vicar of Croydon. The Address will be delivered by The Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon.

Following the Founder’s Day Service, Her Royal Highness will tour Old Palace of John Whitgift School and meet staff, pupils, alumni, residents and Governors across all of the Foundation’s activities, before joining guests at a special Founder’s Day Lunch in Old Palace’s medieval Banqueting Hall. 

Martin Corney, Chief Executive, The Whitgift Foundation, said: “We are delighted and honoured that HRH The Princess Royal, will be attending the 400th Founder’s Day Service at Croydon Minster.

“Through the continuing support of the Fishmongers’ Company we are able to celebrate the work of the charity and give thanks to our Founder Archbishop John Whitgift at an annual Service.

“This tradition spanning four centuries is a momentous occasion for all who benefit from The Whitgift Foundation’s charitable work and we are proud that The Princess Royal will be sharing the occasion with us.

“Whitgift’s  original vision to build a Hospital and support the more vulnerable sections of Croydon’s community now transforms the lives of thousands of children and young people through educational excellence; provides invaluable support to carers across the borough and enables older people to benefit from inclusive and caring communities.”

Major General Colin Boag, Clerk to the Fishmongers’ said: “The thread that links our two organisations for four hundred years originates in Bishop Barlow’s Bequest. The Fishmongers’ feel privileged to have upheld this legacy and very much hope to continue this in the years ahead. We are particularly pleased, in this anniversary year for the Foundation, that HRH the Princess Royal, who is also a member of the Court of the Fishmongers’ Company, is able to be here today to foster the ties between the two organisations.”

Whitgift’s legacy continues today and the Foundation now educates 3,000 pupils at Whitgift, Trinity and Old Palace; assists 42% of pupils with school fees equating to £5million a year; provides a range of care services for 100 older people and supports an estimated 34,000 carers in the Borough through the Carers’ Information Service. 

The Fishmongers’ Company is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London, and among the most ancient of the City Guilds. For over 700 years it has upheld standards in the trading of fish and shellfish and supported the fisheries industry and environmental causes related to fish and fisheries. These are roles it still plays today, as well as supporting education, the arts and the Armed Forces via its Charitable Trust.