Celebrating the Chief Commoner’s Year

Today we marked a special occasion in the history of the Company as we celebrated a Tyler and Bricklayer becoming Chief Commoner of the City of London! Past Master Tom Hoffman MBE joined the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers in 1979 and was admitted to the Court in 1999. He became Master in 2006.

In his time as Master Tom called for the Company to support Christ’s Hospital School and as a result of contributions made our first Presentee, Onyinye, progressed through the School and has just completed her final exams at Kings College London. Our second presentee, Mohammed Rahman starts at Christs Hospital in September and we wish him well.

In 2002 Tom was elected to represent the Ward of Vintry on the Court of Common Council and has since served on almost all the major Corporation committees. In October 2018 the Aldermen and Councilmen of the City elected him to the office of Chief Commoner for the year beginning April 2019.

The office of Chief Commoner, first established in 1444, is unique in that it is the only role now directly elected by the whole Court of Common Council and serves to recognise the contribution the office holder is likely to have made to the City Corporation over a number of years. The Chief Commoner is the foremost representative of the elected councillors with regard to their rights and privileges - but equally, seeks to uphold the discipline and integrity of the Court.

The Ts&Bs are immensely proud of what Tom has achieved in the City and on behalf of the Tylers and Bricklayers and to mark the occasion presented Tom with an engraved decanter and glasses and some rather splendid Lafon Rochet 2002, Branaire Ducru 1985 and Croix de Beaucaillou 2009.

The Master’s Visit to Hampshire – Bricks and Water!

 It is fair to say that this June has not exactly been “flamin” in fact it has been downright wet and so Malcolm and I made sure we had plenty of wet weather clothing and umbrellas packed for the visit.

Given the beauty and brick work of New Place Hotel which incorpates a magnificent interior designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens it had been an easy choice to book the group into this hotel. The Hotel also had 32 acres of Hampshire countryside a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts, croquet lawn and a woodland trail, however the weather got in the way of any enjoyment of the outside areas.

On our first day we visited Fort Nelson, one of five defensive forts built on the summit of Portsdown Hill in the 1860s, overlooking the important naval base of Portsmouth. It is now part of the Royal Armouries, housing their collection of artillery, and a Grade I Listed Building. Our guided tour extended far past the one-hour allocation was fascinating! There were bricks aplenty as over 4 million had been included in the building programme.

Our second day began with a visit to Burlsedon Brickworks Museum. Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum is thought to be the last Victorian steam-driven brickworks left in the UK and is a recipient of regular grants from the Tylers and Bricklayers Craft Trust. We were met by Carolyne Haynes, Project Manager and members of the Trustees and were given a fully guided tour which included seeing the steam driven machinery in full swing!

The final element of our visit was an evening tour and dinner at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth. I am sure most of us, who are old enough, could remember the ship being lifted from the depths of Portsmouth Harbour but nothing could have prepared us for this magnificent Museum. On one side of the centre was the tilted Mary Rose, and on the other, in alignment with what would have been the cabins and areas on the ship were artefacts taken from the ship. Bricks were shown to be part of the cooking area.

Our guided visit only lasted one hour, and we all agreed we could have taken much longer, however dinner overlooking the ship beckoned and was most enjoyable.

After breakfast on the next morning it was time to leave, and not surprisingly, the sun came out!