Celebrating our 450thCharter Anniversary

On All Hallows Eve, Tylers and Bricklayers and their guests dined at Tallow Chandlers Hall as part of the 450thCharter Anniversary celebrations.  

It is particularly appropriate that this dinner was held at Tallow Chandlers Hall.  The Tylers and Bricklayers coat of arms in the window in the Livery Hall demonstrated the connection between the two Companies. The Hall was built by Master Tyler and Bricklayer Master Captain John Caine in the late seventeenth century and from 1948 to 1960 the Tylers and Bricklayers used Tallow Chandlers as a refuge whilst post war rebuilding of the City was undertaken.  

During the Evening we welcomed a new Companion to the Company, Diana Christopher.  Five years ago, it had been agreed that widows and widowers of Past Masters and Wardens should be invited to become Companions to continue their association with the Tylers and Bricklayers.    Diana Christopher had been a part of the Tylers and Bricklayers family for many years supporting Michael.  Sadly Michael had passed away earlier this year Diana had accepted our invitation to become a Companion and it gave me great pleasure in presenting a Certificate to her.  


Much research had been undertaken into the food eaten at Elizabethan banquets and whilst it was not appropriate to have a boar’s head on the table, we dined on Ham Hock Terrine, Quenelle of Pike, Venison and Lemon Posset, and enjoyed some superb wines arranged by the Wine Committee.

After the meal the Loving Cup was passed round and speeches were given by Liveryman Professor John Schofield and the Master.

This was the final element of the Anniversary Celebrations and all Liverymen who attended thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Off to the Reform Club

The Consort and I attended a Livery Banquet at the Reform Club as guests of Liveryman Professor John Schofield, who is Chairman of the Reform Club.  Guests of honour for the evening were the two Sheriffs of the City of London, Alderman Vincent Keaveny and Non-aldermanic Sheriff Liz Green along with her consort Peter.

The Reform Club is one of the most beautiful buildings on Pall Mall, having survived the London Blitz intact.  The Library was the perfect situation for the diners and we had a wonderful evening chatting with guests.  Liz Green gave a most entertaining speech explaining the role of the City and the work the Sheriffs in the modern era.

Professor Schofield presented Liz with gifts to mark the occasion.

A square within a square within a square!

 I was delighted to be able to attend the inaugural Gilder Lecture organised by the Worshipful Company of Masons.

Named after Mr James Gilder, Master Mason 1620-1621, the lecture entitled Stone and the City was presented by Liveryman Adrian Paye from Paye Stonework and Restoration, who had recently been involved in the preservation of the Temple of Mithras which is underneath the Bloomberg Building in the City.

The lecture began with a history lesson on how the Romans had perfected the technique of building with stone in Rome and around their empire.  Using stone from Caen the Romans had constructed buildings in Londinium, as it was known then.  They were somewhat protective of their craft as they did not pass on their skills to English Masons!  

After the Romans left it was the time that the Vikings invaded England and no stone buildings were constructed again until the Middle Ages.  Using skills learned in France Masons began constructing Cathedrals and Castles.  For a time, men could be conscripted into masonry as the Kings of England built more and more with stone.

Geometry plays a role in stone masonry, and we were shown how a square within a square within a square was the basis for calculating many aspects of stone masonry.

This was an altogether fascinating lecture and a mental note has been made to visit to Temple of Mithras very soon!

A newly installed Master Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants

In the beautiful surroundings of Merchant Taylors Hall Pippa Latham was installed as the new Master of the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants.  The Consort and I joined other Masters to celebrate the occasion. 

During the evening we listened to the beautiful soprano Natalya Romaniw singing l’amour est un oiseau rebelle from Carmen, Donde lieta usci from La Boheme and Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heib from Guiditta.

I was seated next to Alderman Sir Roger Gifford and Immediate Past Master Brian Blanchard and had interested discussions on music, encouraging entrants into the crafts and life post-Brexit.

A lesson in wine tasting

The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers is known for the wine it provides at our lunches and dinners.  The Wine Committee meet once a year to select the wines for forthcoming occasions taking advice offered by Francis Flavin from Davy & Co.

As Master I was invited to join the Wine Committee for lunch (which incidentally we all paid for) and to bring along some wine for the occasion.  For this lunch, Chairman Philip Parris had asked diners to bring wines using grapes from Bordeaux but not produced in this beautiful area of France.

With permission from the Chairman, I took some English Sparkling wine from Elham Valley Vineyard home to T&B supported charity, the Fifth Trust and to my relief it was declared a good wine!

Frances talked us through each of the wines as we ate and asked us to compare one against another. As a non-wine specialist, I learned much about the wines we drank and had a most convivial afternoon!

Meeting of the Construction Liveries Group

My first event as Master was to attend a meeting of the Construction Liveries Group at Carpenters’ Hall.

The Group consists of Livery companies who have an interest in the construction industry and is chaired by Tom Barton.  Topics of discussion included the presentation of the Masters Certificates, the Livery Committee Skills Council and the Builder’s Merchants Apprenticeship Initiative.

Having worked in the construction industry for nearly 30 years I was pleased to see the commitment of the CLG towards education and training, and to emphasise that construction is a great place to work.

Installing a new Master Constructor

Drapers’ Hall was the venue for the Installation Dinner of the new Master Constructor Mike Parrett, and Malcolm and I were delighted to be part of this special occasion.

Drapers Hall was bought from King Henry VIII in 1543 for the sum of 1,800 marks (approximately £1,200). This had been the house of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Chief Minister to Henry, but had been forfeited to the King on Cromwell's execution in July 1540.

Destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, Drapers’ Hall was rebuilt between 1667 and 1671 to designs by Edward Jarman. In 1772, it was again rebuilt after a fire which did considerable damage and, in the 1860s, the frontage was changed and the interior altered by Herbert Williams. It was later altered once more in 1898-9 by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. 
We were delighted to meet Master World Trader Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Master Turner David Batchelor during the course of the evening.  The guest speaker Keith Exford CBE, a good friend of the Master not only regaled guests with stories of their past lives, but also talked about the housing sector.

We wish Master Mike and his Consort Jessica a wonderful year ahead and we are sure our paths will cross again over the coming 12 months.

WorldSkills Live and Digital Marketing

You may wonder if there is any connection between a skills competition for our three crafts of tiling, roofing and bricklaying and marketing, but if you think about it there is!

The Tylers and Bricklayers Company are supporting the tiling candidates as they work towards the 2019 World Skills Competition taking place in Kazan.  This Skills competition along with the UK version of WorldSkills Live showcases all that is best about young people progressing through their training in their respective craft.  

World Skills Live will also be promoting careers, running seminars and have a go areas in a myriad of skills and crafts.  To market the event World Skills are busy using digital marketing techniques, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to encourage visitors to the event taking place at the NEC in November.

On the same day as meeting with World Skills Live I went along to a seminar run by the Worshipful Company of Marketors where Guy Daniels talked about Digital Marketing in the 21st Century.

He reminded his audience that the core skills of marketing i.e. know your customer, know your product or service and create a connection with your current and new customer using the KISS approach.   

As we move towards a digital world he went on to explain the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  In simple terms he reminded us that when we go online to sites such as Google, Facebook or Amazon, algorithms within their software note what we search for or buy, and then make suggestions of what we may like to buy or subscribe to.  Whilst we may think this is very clever and buy their suggested products or services there are some ethical issues which have to be addressed.  Does AI know more about us than we know ourselves being a case in point!

Going back to World Skills, the organisers know their customer base is mostly young people looking for potential careers and promote the event to them via social media.  Live feeds will be available to view the event, whilst for us older folks a visit will be of interest.  All round a good example of marketing!

Prizes Galore!

I was honoured to attend the annual prize giving of the City of London School for Boys at Guildhall along with other representatives from Livery Companies who support the School through bursaries or prizes.

The Great Hall of Guildhall was filled with prize winners and their proud parents, students and teachers and guests such as me.  Sir Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor in locum tenens, the two Sheriffs and their consorts took centre stage with the Chairman of the School Governors.   

After a welcome by the Chairman of the Governors, Head of School Rahul Shah gave a speech in praise of John Carpenter who initiated the school back in the Middle Ages.  Rahul spoke with such confidence and eloquence that you could forget he was still in his teens!  The School Head, Mr Alan Bird then took to the stage to address the audience.
There were many prizes to hand out, and the winners of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers Noreen Dickins Prizes were David Gringras, Isaac Gruber, Raphael Mizrahi, Rahul Shah and Alexander Teeger, are to be especially congratulated.

The Chamber Choir marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 by singing “The Soldier” whose words reminded us of Rupert Brookes poem “If I should die, think only this of me” and In This Place.  The angelic voices of the altos will stay in my memory for years to come.

Sir Andrew Parmley addressed the audience with his usual humour before the Prize Giving came to an end and a welcome cup of tea was provided for all the guests!

Who doesn’t love a Ruby!

The City University Club played host to the Tylers and Bricklayers Christmas Reception for a number of years before moving to new premises close to Fenchurch Street Station.

Its Secretary Hasita Senanayake invited a group of Tylers and Bricklayers to its new premises to sample Sri Lankan cuisine cooked by a chef who had travelled to the UK especially for this event; and a group of curry lovers were delighted to accept.

Sri Lankan cuisine is known to be spicy however Chef had tempered the amount of chilli and produced an excellent lunch.  To whet your appetite here are just a few items from the menu:

Black Lamb Curry
Devilled Prawns
Heritance Red Chicken Curry
Cashew Carrot and Pea Curry
Tempered Dhal

All of these delicious dishes were washed down with beer, the name of which reminds you of a snake!

Suffice it to say the Tylers and Bricklayers left the Club fully sated hoping that the Upper Warden (whose family hail from Sri Lanka) will include a Sri Lankan meal at the Club during his year as Master.

Young Builders Awards

I had the honour of attending the 2018 Young Builders Awards at the Palace of Westminster on 17thOctober 2018 at a guest of Liveryman Livia Williams who is a Trustee of Youthbuild UK.

The Youthbuild Awards celebrates the achievements of socially excluded young people who are now making their way in the Construction industry.

President of Youthbuild, The Rt. Hon. John Hayes CBE MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning presented the prizes to two age groups, the first 14 to 18 year olds, and the second 19 to 24 years old.

Each of the finalists has had to overcome a myriad of difficulties ranging from mental health, to abuse and illness and it was humbling to listen to the stories of these young people.  

The winner of the younger age group was Joshua Smith from Bradford and the older group winner was Zinnia Young from Sunderland.

After the event all the finalists were treated to a trip on the London Eye before heading back to their homes.

Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters 

The association between the Tylers and Bricklayers and the Framework Knitters Company’s came into being through Catherine Fuller, wife of Deputy Master Jeff, who is a member of this Company.

Whilst there is no obvious connection between the two Companies, the fact is that there is; as we both have deep interests in our respective crafts and both have full involvement in the education and training of new entrants.  It is also a very friendly Company and is most welcoming to its guests.

Malcolm and I were delighted to accept an invitation to the Livery Banquet of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters at Mansion House on 19thOctober 2018.  The Banquet took place in the beautiful Egyptian Hall, although its design probably has more to do with Roman times than Egyptian!

I was seated alongside Master Glover, Alvan Seth-Smith, and Peter Green, Sheriff Liz Green’s Consort, and was thoroughly entertained throughout the dinner.

After the meal 9 Company Bursaries and 5 Awards were presented to young students who were in the final stages of their degree courses.  As well as receiving a prize the winner is allocated a Mentor whose role it is to help the student through the award year and give advice when needed. As a result the textile industry with a continuing flow of well qualified personnel.

Guests were entertained by speeches from Professor Julian Ellis OBE, Sir David Wootton and the Master Sheila Turner.  Music was provided by the Band of the Royal Yeomanry.

All Change!

The first week of October is a busy week for the members of the City companies.  The new Sheriffs (Aldermanic Sheriff Vincent Keaveny and Non-aldermanic Sheriff Liz Green) took office on 28th September and the election of the Lord Mayor took place on 1st October.  Many Masters are installed around this time, including the Master of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers.

All Liverymen who had been clothed before the previous May are entitled to take part in the Election process for the Lord Mayor which takes place at Guildhall, and the event is called Common Hall.  

Electing a Lord Mayor

Common Hall follows the same process year in year out, and begins with a procession of Officers of the City and Livery Company Masters (including Master Jeff Fuller - see below) to St Lawrence Jewry for a short church service and thence to the Great Hall. 

 Whilst the Service takes place Liverymen take their place in the Great Hall.  This year I sat with Catherine Fuller, Master’s Consort and Framework Knitter and Colin Menzies, Tyler and Bricklayer.  The time before processions begin gave us time to chat to fellow Liverymen and marvel at the gothic architecture of the Hall and to spot details of the trials of some famous individuals that had taken place there including Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Day Queen.

Common Hall opens with the Common Cryer and Serjeant-at-Arms calling for silence with a booming voice directing “all gentlemen to be uncovered in the Hall” and “all those who are not Liverymen to depart the Hall on pain of imprisonment.”

The livery was invited to vote for two aldermen (who have also served sheriff), from which two the Court of Aldermen would then choose one. The names of each were announced by the Common Serjeant, in the order in which was expected they would go forward. The response to the first name read out was “Aye”, the second name response “Next time” and the third “Later”.  The first two names were deemed elected, and the Court of Aldermen then withdrew to choose the first. 

There were no surprises as Alderman Peter Estlin processed back into the Hall alongside the current Lord Mayor Alderman William Bowman.  After speeches by Mayor Elect Alderman Peter Estlin and the two newly retired Sheriffs Common Hall closed and everyone then made a rapid exit from Guildhall to try and catch a few photos of the newly elected Alderman.

Tylers and Bricklayers repaired to Stationers’ Hall for a convivial lunch.

One day to go!

With an Installation Speech written, this Master Elect had to ensure beds were made, the larder filled and baking and cooking under way ahead of the arrival of four generations of the family joining Malcolm and me for Installation Day.

Installation Day

With the family gathered together we headed up to London for this very special day.

Whilst the Master Elect joined fellow members of the Court for a brief meeting, our Consort Elect, family and partners of Court Assistants enjoyed coffee before we all departed for St. Margaret Lothbury and the Installation Ceremony and Service.

During the Ceremony the Master Elect swears an Oath of allegiance to Her Majesty and to keep the affairs of the Company in good order for the coming year; the outgoing Master is relieved of his cloak and is presented with a Past Master’s Badge, in this case Deputy Master Jeff Fuller received his father’s badge.  The new Upper Warden and Renter Wardens receive their badges and gowns of office and then it is the turn of the Mistress to hand over her badge of office to the new Consort.

After this short ceremony, the Master and Wardens retire to the Vestry for a few minutes before processing back into the Church for the Installation Service.

As Master Elect I was invited to choose the hymns and music for the Service and was delighted to be able to choose my three favourite hymns together with the reading from Paul to the Corinthians on the subject of charity.  Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley gave his usual wonderful sermon and Honorary Chaplain John Cook led the prayers.
After the Service we processed back to Carpenters’ Hall following the new Company banner made by the very talented Past Mistress Catherine Fuller.  

A glass of champagne went down very well as the new Master, Consort, Upper Warden Michel Saminaden with his wife Maureen, and Renter Warden Simon Martin greeted all the guests.

Our guest of honour for the lunch was Chris Moores, CEO of The Clink Charity, which had been our Charity of the Year, and Master Carpenter Peter Birt QC.

There followed a most convivial lunch followed by speeches of welcome to our guests from Alex Maclean Bather, a toast to our guests by Liveryman Diana Malzer, a response by Chris Moores, and then my own as Master.  

During the speech I was delighted to be able to present Chris Moores with a cheque for £5000 as a result of fundraising during the year.

And so begins a new era for the Tylers and Bricklayers with their first lady Master at the helm!