Edward Heardson- The Society's First Cook
As the Society became more established it was clear that a professional cook was required and the choice fell on Edward Heardson. He was a famed bare-knuckle boxer – reputedly the champion of all England. He was appointed in 1756 and held the office for thirty years. His steaks were prepared in a kitchen connected to the dining room by way of an enormous metal grill in the form of a gridiron, At the end of the meal Heardson came into the room to collect the money owed on a pewter plate, each member paying 5s for his steak and 10s 6d for any guests.
Such was Heardson’s fame that a print was made in 1785, showing him in his cook’s cap and holding a large kitchen knife above a plate of beef. Eleven years later Heardson was sick and dying, but he stayed on at work, asking with his last breath that he be carried into the dining room to die.
The Beggars Opera
The Beggars Opera
Painted by Brother Hogarth
After Irving’s death the Society gradually languished until eventually it appeared to have expired again. However, it has proved itself IMMORTAL, and since its second revival in the midst of the last century it has continued from strength to strength, dining once a month every year save during the summer break. Members continue to wear the traditional uniform, and woe betide that impious dog who unwittingly infringes our ancient laws. Under the Recorder’s stern gaze he is doomed to crawl around the table in a white sheet, or suffer some yet more humiliating punishment.
All the ancient regalia have been restored to the Society. On learning of its resuscitation, Her Majesty the Queen graciously returned the historic Throne on which Members from Hogarth to Irving and onwards have sat in succession as President.
The President traditionally wears a Beefeater’s hat, and when it succumbed to age and rough usage a new one was formally presented at a Dinner by the Constable and Governor of the Tower. When the Recorder’s hat similarly required replacement, the Governor of the Chelsea Hospital likewise attended as a Guest and presented us with the traditional Pensioner’s tricorn.
Recently Acquired, Brother Rear Admiral George Dundas's seat