In August 1568 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 1 presented the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers with a Royal Charter. Over recent years the Company has celebrated the occasion with a Charter Day organised by the current Master with, hopefully, some kind of connection to Queen Elizabeth 1.

It has been my hope this year to highlight the three crafts of the Tylers and Bricklayers and following a conversation with Heritage Bricklayer Master Craftsman Emma Simpson it was decided to arrange a visit to Hampton Court Palace, one of the many homes of Queen Elizabeth during her reign.

Hampton Court Palace is known for its 241 Elizabethan style chimneys, which interestingly enough were not built in Tudor times but much later.  Some of the chimneys have not aged well and it is the role of Emma Simpson and her team of heritage bricklayers to restore them back to their former glory. Emma spends many hours at the Palace undertaking the restoration work. As a result, Emma was able to “pull a few strings” and arranged a roof top tour of the Palace led by Dan Jackson, Curator of Historic Buildings for Hampton Court Palace ably assisted by Emma.

As part of the day a 90-minute guided tour of the Palace was arranged as well as a demonstration by Emma and her team of Neal Cooper a Tyler and Bricklayers Master Craftsman Lynn Mathias and Matt Wilson one of this year’s SPAB Fellows.

Charter Day dawned with warm dry weather and 28 members and guests made their way to Hampton Court Palace. After tea, coffee and some cakes made by yours truly it was time for each group to head up onto the roof. The views from the roof were magnificent and it was wonderful to be able to get “up front and personal” with the chimneys. My camera came into its own on that part of the visit!

After lunch it was time for the tour of the Palace led by guide Sarah Slater. Even 90 minutes could not begin to scrape the surface of the history of this lovely Palace and most of us made a note to visit again.

Back to Emma’s workshop for a refreshing drink and an opportunity to see the many different shaped bricks being cut from rectangular bricks and to learn how chimneys were restored or re-built from scratch.