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