The Tylers and Bricklayers’ Company has a very fine collection of treasures, both of the written word and items of silver. The Company was fortunate that its hall did not burn down in the Great Fire of 1666 and consequently our written records date back to the early part of the reign of Henry VIII and are now expertly conserved for us by Howard Doble from the Metropolitan Archives and Dr Peter Ross, the Guildhall librarian. The written records are stored at the Guildhall archive.
Most of the Company’s silver dates from the 19th or 20th centuries, but this was not always the case. Records show that in 1642 there was a quantity of silver and silver-gilt plate, including rare Stuart pieces as well as items of even earlier dates. Among the Stuart pieces were a large quantity of silver spoons, silver rosewater dishes and tankards. It was a tradition for those being admitted to the Freedom of the Company to present the Company with a silver spoon. The Clerk frequently records these gifts and on 11th December 1625 writes: “This day James Gudson being made free of this Company … gave to this Company a silver spoon.” This practice was carried out by a number of Livery Companies. There is a fine collection of Elizabethan and Stuart seal-top spoons on display in Armourers’ Hall.
Fortunes changed, however: in 1642, the Livery Companies of London were assembled at Guildhall by the Lords and Commons loyal to Charles I to ask for a loan of £100,000. This was to help fund the Civil War and so, sadly, all the Company’s silver was sold for a little over £170 and the money was surrendered to the Crown.
Much of the Company’s silver was given by members of the Bird, Rider, Montgomery and Fuller families. It represents good examples of silver pieces spanning more than 120 years.