It was a great honour and privilege to be installed as the 440thMaster of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayerson 30 September 2021. When I talk to people outside the Company about the Tylers & Bricklayers, I nearly alwaysrefer first to the past – to the granting of our Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 and to our first recorded Master in 1416. This long history is important. To put it in context, the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole served from 1721 to 1742 and the United States did not have a President until George Washington in 1789. I was very aware of this long legacy when I took the Master’s oath at the Installation.
The Installation, Annual Service and Installation Lunch
The Installation took place in St Margaret Lothbury by kind permission of our old friend, Rector Jeremy Crossley. Past Master Michel Saminaden passed the Master’s gown and badge to me after two eventful and memorable years. John Schofield was installed as Upper Warden and Chris Causer as Renter Warden. I was delighted to present Michel with the Moreland Medal which Michel will wear as Immediate Past Master for the next 12 months.
The Annual service follows the Installation, with barely a pause to draw breath. We were honoured that the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally agreed to give the address in the Annual Service which was lead by our Honorary Chaplain, John Cook. The music was magnificent as always, with the Lothbury Singers directed by Honorary Freeman Richard Townend.
The Installation Lunch was held at Carpenters’ Hall. The principal guest was the Right Honourable David Gauke, who was Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice in Theresa May’s Government. I have known David since we worked together at Macfarlanes in the early 2000s before David was first elected to Parliament in 2005. David made an excellent and amusing speech replying to the toast to the guests given by Court Assistant Jenny Rolls.
A full report of the Installation, Annual Service and Installation Lunch will appear in an Event Report on the website shortly. For now, I would like to thank the many members of the Company who gave me a warm welcome and such uplifting support at the Installation or who have sent kind messages. I am very grateful.
The First Two Weeks
The Master of a Livery Company has several different roles. Members see the Master most often when he or she sits on the top table at our formal lunches and dinners and makes a speech responding to the Toast to the Company. The Master also leads informal visits and events during his or her year. The Master also presides over Court meetings and works in close harness with the Clerk, the Wardens, the Court and the various committees to ensure that the Company continues to function smoothly, efficiently and within the agreed annual budget for the year. But the most visible external role is as an ambassador, representing the Company at a range of events across the City and beyond.
I have enjoyed a busy and varied first fortnight representing the Company in this way. On the day following the Installation, I attended the annual prize giving of the City of London School for Girls in Guildhall. This year the Noreen Dickins prize fund was shared by thirteen girls from Year 12 with the prize awarded for progress in Mathematics. I met the Master Needlemaker at the reception following the prizegiving. He too had been installed as Master on the previous day but as his installation took place in the afternoon, followed by an Installation Dinner, I was able to claim seniority by all of 6 hours!
I have listened to a lecture given by the Master Plumber on the surprisingly interesting topic of “The Royal Plumbers and Early Water Engineering” at the Royal College of Physicians. I have been to evensong twice at St Paul’s Cathedral. The second occasion was the Musicians’ Company Annual Evensong when all Masters and Clerks are invited to process into St Paul’s and take their seats under the Dome. A wonderful spectacle with beautiful music from the choir and from the string orchestra from the Royal College of Music. There was some good natured confusion before the procession as we assembled in the Crypt: we were told to line up in order of precedence with the Master Draper first in line but most Masters (including me) could not remember which Company came before or after (we follow the Coopers at number 36 but stand in front of the Bowyers at number 37) or, even if they could remember, they had no idea of the identity of the relevant Master.
I have also been to the Installation Dinner of the Master Constructor at Grocers Hall which was a splendid evening in a magnificent room. The Master Constructor is in fact starting his second year in office – he described himself as an environmentally friendly, re-cycled Master!
Perhaps the highlight of the last fortnight has been a Corps Guest Night, hosted by the Chief Royal, Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch, at the Royal Engineers Headquarters Mess at Chatham. This was the first formal dinner for some 20 months because of covid restrictions so the Corps was dining out (saying farewell) to a number of senior officers who have completed their service and also welcoming several batches of new RE subalterns who have joined the Corps. The Tylers & Bricklayers are one of only three Livery Companies that have an affiliation with the Corps of Royal Engineers and it was a great honour to be invited to attend this special evening. I look forward to welcoming several representatives from the Royal Engineers to our Craft Awards Lunch at Trinity House in March next year when we will award the Stokes prizes for the best Class 1 and Class 2 bricklayers training at the Royal School of Mechanical Engineering.
16 October 2021
I extend warm Summer greetings to you all and I hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.
September has been an explosive month in terms of events and city functions. I feel that things are now back to almost normal in the Livery world and that of the Mayoralty.
Starting with the Covid-19 situation, there was good news as vaccination booster shots were agreed by the Government, on the advice of the JCVI, and the rollout has already started for the over 50s. Also, schools are preparing to arrange vaccinations for 12 to 15 year-olds. Although the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 is increasing, the good news is that the number of people with serious illness is not rising in line with infections – proof that the vaccines are having an impact.
The other wonderful news for this month was Emma Raducanu’s amazing win at the US Women’s Single Open – it gladdened the Nation’s hearts to see such a lovely young person achieve this well-deserved success.
Turning to the City and all matters Livery, what a month it has been! The month started brilliantly with a lovely lunch at Bakers Hall, as a guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, on the very first day of the month. This was followed, the next day with our fabulous Triennial Awards and luncheon at Apothecaries’ Hall. The presentation of the of the awards took place in the beautiful Parlour in front of all the winners and invited guests. Court Assistant David White had done a superb job of organising the event and making the presentations so successful, and I was really pleased to have Vicky Russell as my Principal Guest for the presentations as well as for lunch. What a fabulous event this was.
On Monday 6th I took part in a wonderful Zoom event in which City Guide Katie Wignall took us on a very interesting tour of Holborn, and the next day I attended a wonderful service at the Church of St Vedast-alias-Foster to celebrate the 650th Anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. It was so nice to be able to don the Master’s Gown and Chain of Office to process in to the Church with my fellow Masters.
The very next day Maureen and I were delighted to attend the Summer Festival of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers at Salters’ Hall. This was a black-tie dinner with all the formalities of a lovely City event, wonderful.
And on Friday 10th we were guests of the Tile Association at their amazing Gala Awards Dinner. This took place in a huge marquee in the grounds of the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club, and was a dazzling musical event. I had the pleasure of presenting one of the Awards, which was the icing on the cake. The Tile Association were wonderful hosts, putting us up at the hotel for the night. A delightful evening.
Following a short rest at the weekend, we were straight into more events. On Monday 13th I was at the first face to face meeting of my Past Masters’ Association, the Zoomers. Again, it was so nice to be able to see my fellow Committee Members properly for the first time rather than on a small screen. The meeting was followed by a super lunch at Ironmongers’ Hall.
The next day we made our way to Herefordshire for our long-awaited Craft Visit to Rowlands Roofing, followed by the delightful Banquet at Liveryman Brenda Upton-Kemp’s home. This was such a fantastic trip, three wonderful days of learning about one of our crafts, hands on experience, and great fellowship. What more could anyone want?
And the pace continued the following week! On Monday 20th Maureen and I were happy to join a small group of fellow Liverymen to carry out the annual silver cleaning at Carpenters’ Hall. This was organised by Silver Steward Martin Reading and we all worked hard to ensure a beautiful display of our Company Silver at the forthcoming Installation service. The cleaning was followed by a very nice lunch.
The next day, Tuesday 21st, I was up early and made my way to the Guildhall Yard where I had been invited to attend a photocall with the Lord Mayor to celebrate City Giving Day. It was so nice to see lots of people all dressed in red, celebrating this wonderful charitable event. At lunchtime I joined a small group of Tylers and Bricklayers and a number of Merchant Taylors for a guided City walk. It was fascinating to be taken around the upper walkways of the Barbican and to hear about the history of the area. In the evening I was at a Black-Tie event with the Lord Mayor at Mansion House, celebrating the huge success of the Big Curry Lunch, in the presence of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
On Thursday 23rd I was guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Masons for a wonderful luncheon at Cutlers’ Hall and on Friday I had the privilege of visiting one of the Triennial Award Winners to personally hand over the prize.
This week I have my final event, Common Hall, for the election of the Lord Mayor at Guildhall followed by lunch, which I am very much looking forward to. I hope to be able to process in to the Guildhall with all my fellow Masters for one last time.
I extend warm Summer greetings to you all and I hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.
Starting with Covid-19 matters, there was confirmation that the vaccines would be rolled out to all 16-17 year olds, and this commenced immediately. There was also medical approval for the Moderna vaccine to be given to 12-17 year olds, but this process has yet to receive political backing. The great news is that over 75% of all eligible adults have now received both doses of vaccine, which will hopefully enable the “normality” that we are all now experiencing, to continue long into the future.
August has been a fairly quiet month in terms of City Events, but very momentous, as I managed to finally hold my long-awaited Annual Dinner. And what a marvellous event it was! The setting was the fabulous Grand Hall of the Barber-Surgeons, where around 100 of us were seated at a wonderful horse-shoe shaped dining table under the watchful gaze of Holbein’s Henry VIII. I was very privileged to have Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli as my Principal Guest, with his wife, Elisabeth. We dined on superb food and drank plenty of excellent champagnes and good wines. It was a night to remember.
I also managed to hold the joint Charter Day and Consort’s Visit this month. A small group of us visited the amazing Copped Hall in Epping. This is a fine Georgian Mansion that is currently under extensive restoration by a group of incredibly dedicated and hard working volunteers. Liveryman Dick Spellar, one of the Trustees of the Copped Hall Trust, facilitated this wonderfully interesting visit, which included a tour of the house and extensive gardens and a fabulous homemade lunch. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
September looks like being a very busy month, and I am looking forward to joining in with all the activities that the City has to offer.
The month of September started in fine style with a wonderful luncheon as guest of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers. It was so nice to be together again in each other's company, and it was especially wonderful to have both Sheriffs with us on this joyous occasion, with Sheriff Mainelli accompanied by his wife, Elisabeth. Master Baker greeted everyone on entry with a glass of champagne which set the scene beautifully for the rest of the luncheon. We feasted on Cornish Lobster Cocktail in Sea Urchin, followed by Roast Old Gloucester Suckling Pig with Trio of Bakers Pudding for dessert - scrumptious.
The food was accompanied by splendid wines as always and as a special treat, Master Baker had arranged for a "goody bag" to be given to every guest, comprising of delicious homemade doughnuts and a lovely organic wholemeal loaf. A wonderful event to start the month off.
I extend warm Summer greetings to all and hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.
July has been a month of contrasting news and events. The weather has been extreme in different ways all over the world, from extreme heat in parts, to extreme flooding in others. The Met Office issued its first ever "Amber Extreme Heat Warning", as temperatures exceeded 30°C across large swathes of the UK. Sport has also taken our emotions from one extreme to the other – England managed to get to the EUFA Euro Finals for the first time in many years which made everyone elated- but then there was disbelief and sadness as we were beaten by Italy on penalties!
Turning to Covid matters, there was good news as the vaccine was extended to many under 18s and the daily numbers of infections began to fall. In the light of this good news, the Prime Minister confirmed that the fourth and final stage of the Government's conditional lockdown easing would proceed as planned on 19 July, which was great news for the hospitality industry.
In terms of Company business, I attended a meeting of the Wine Committee at Davy’s Wine vaults in Greenwich this month where the very important business of reviewing our stocks of wines and choosing new purchases for future dates was discussed in some depth. Francis Flavin of Davy’s was there to guide us through the current market and quality of harvests, which the Committee found most interesting. I also attended meetings of the Finance and Communications Committees.
In the City things have taken off with a bang! On the actual day of lockdown easing, Maureen and I were invited to a lunch for “Two Termers” at Saddlers’ Hall, hosted by the Prime Warden Saddler and the Upper Bailiff Weaver and attended by Sheriff Chris Hayward. It was a wonderful event, commencing in a marquee with a band playing while we sipped champagne on a warm Summer day.
As this was the very first event in the new eased environment, we still sat on tables of 8, slightly socially distanced, but it was a joyous occasion nonetheless which marked a return to normality for the City.
The next day, Maureen had a private lunch with the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Hilary Russell, at the Mansion House, which she enjoyed immensely, and the day after we were invited to Apothecaries’ Hall by The Mistress Apothecary for an event entitled “Death by Shakespeare”, plus lunch. This was a very amusing talk, given by Kathryn Harkup, outlining the many different ways that Shakespeare killed off his characters over the years – snakebite, lack of sleep, and poison in the ear being just some of them!
And on this same day, once again, Maureen was invited to a private dinner party and tour of the Old Bailey by Sheriff’s Consort, Mrs Elisabeth Mainelli, which she enjoyed thoroughly. To end this amazing week of events, we were invited by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers to a White Tie Banquet at The Mansion House to celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the granting of their Royal Charter. This was a splendid occasion in the presence of the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff Michael Mainelli. As always, the food and wine were superb, as was the entertainment on the night. What a fabulous end to a very special week.
On the Saturday we joined in the celebration of Liveryman Ray Baker’s life at his family home in Croydon where Ray’s son, Liveryman Ed Baker, held a wonderful barbecue and garden party in Ray’s memory. It was really nice to be able to reminisce about Ray’s life and his wonderful contribution to the Tylers and Bricklayers and to the wider world of bricklaying generally. He will be sadly missed.