The last two and half months have been extremely busy with a full programme of engagements and events.
April started with a bang – The Big Curry lunch at Guildhall. This event is held in support of ABF – The Soldiers Charity. The company supports the event, and I was joined on the day by Liveryman and Steward, Colin Menzies. Court Assistant Simon Martin also hosted a party of T&Bs who had a very enjoyable time. After a quick break we walked to St Margarets Lothbury for our Livery Speakers evening. Barry Blumsom – City Policeman, John Bevan – Old Bailey Judge, Ray Horwood – Air Commodore and fast jet pilot, and Roger Westbrook – Ambassador, all treated us to a fascinating account of their extremely interesting careers.
A short trip to France to prepare for the T&B excursion was followed by a visit to a Dame Kelly Homes Trust venue in Lambeth. Along with Piers Nicholson and Ian Mitchell-Grimshaw I was able to see the charity we support giving excellent tutorage to young people.
In many ways the highlight of my year has been a lunch I attended at the Old Bailey at the invite of Alderman and Sheriff William Russell. Four guests were able to lunch with the Old Bailey judges as they took a break from the Court proceedings. Discussion at lunch was fascinating after which I was able to spend an hour and half in Court One observing a ‘cannabis farm’ trial!
I attended the Founders Day lunch at the City of London School for girls, which is located effectively within the bounds of the Barbican. The T&Bs have a close connection with the school in that the ancestors of Past Master Nicholas Ward were the founders. In the evening I attended the Cobham Lecture organized by the Air Pilots Company at the premises of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
There are always T&B duties that have to be fitted in and fortunately both the Finance Committee and Communications Committee meetings are organized on the same day. Two new prospective Court Assistants were also interviewed.
As Master I am invited to join the judges for the final judging of the Triennial Awards. I joined Upper Warden Jeff Fuller and Past Master David Cole-Adams to visit the excellent schemes that have been nominated.
As it was their 25th anniversary, the Information Technologists Company held their annual dinner at Guildhall, which was packed full. Both the Clerk and I were invited to this special occasion for a relatively new company.
Liveryman Colin Beeck kindly invited the Mistress and I, with Deputy Master Roger Westbrook to a fabulous lunch at City Social. Colin lives in Perth, Australia but manages to join us in the UK on an annual basis.
The Sons of the Clergy Service was held at St Pauls in the late afternoon, followed by dinner at Merchant Taylors Hall. Unfortunately the acoustics in St Pauls were not good which in many ways spoilt the sermon from the Archbishop of York. Fortunately this was not a problem at Merchant Taylors Hall where both Canon Roger Royle, and ex. Communard, Reverend Richard Coles entertained us with great humour.
Lunch at Bakers Hall as a guest was extremely enjoyable as we witnessed the Bakers paying their ‘rent’ to the landlord in a ceremony that is rarely made public. The rent due is 6 loaves of bread, 3 white and 3 brown! In the evening I attended St Barts Hospital viewing day service at St Bartholomews the Great. This is a wonderful city church and is well worth a visit.
Thursday 11th May 2017 was a big day! The Annual Company dinner at Haberdashers Hall. As well as many members of the Company, we were joined by guests, including a number of friends from our home village of Mells. I have to say that they thoroughly enjoyed the T&B tradition and hospitality. It was also good to hear from Jeremy Crossley, the vicar of St Margaret's Lothbury, who is a good friend of the Company. We were also delighted to be joined by a certain Freeman, Johnny Szymanski, who had travelled from Melbourne, Australia to support the Master and Mistress.
Another day was spent viewing entries for the Triennials, after which we hosted the Wardens and Clerks dinner at DeanStreetTownhouse. Soho is not a normal venue for a T&B function, but we decided to stray across London!
The following day we visited the H G Matthews brickworks in Bellingdon, near Amersham. A group of 25 witnessed traditional brickmaking hosted by Jim Matthews and his family. As a complete surprise we also got the opportunity to view a collection of 60 vintage tractors. The highlight of the day was the pub lunch which was amazing value and super quality.
Friday 19th May was full-on with two awards ceremonies to attend. The NFRC Awards were held in the Park Plaza Westminster hotel at lunchtime followed by the TTA Awards at the Radisson Blu in the evening. Both awards functions honour craftsmen that operate in our designated fields. The NFRC Awards were hosted by Stef McGovern from BBC Breakfast News who was excellent. The TTA Awards featured amongst other attractions a display of Burlesque.
An invite to a Buckingham Palace garden party is a great honour and the Mistress and I were excited as we walked through the entrance to the Palace. The whole event is carefully managed but we were able to get within viewing distance of our Queen, who looked absolutely wonderful.
The next day I travelled to the Royal Engineers barracks at Chatham to experience ‘Beating Retreat’. The Royal Engineers always make us most welcome and I think our association with the Corps is much appreciated.
Court Assistant John Schofield and I attended the Christs Hospital Speech Day at the their Horsham campus. For those of you that have not visited this school, it is an amazing facility with wonderful buildings and grounds. The standards that are set are extremely high, and the school provides scholarships for students from state schools. While at the school, John and I were able to locate the newly installed Company stained glass crest.
The Mistress arranged a Ladies visit to Chelsea Physic Garden that was originally established by the Apothecaries Company in 1673 to provide herbal medicinal remedies. I was able to attend the event and thoroughly enjoyed these superb and unusual gardens in the middle of Chelsea.
We accepted an invitation from the Builders Merchants Master to join them on a visit to Hampstead Heath. This is a part of London that I had no knowledge of and was staggered to discover that the Heath covers 690 acres, overlooking the City of London.
The June Court meeting was followed by the Masters and Clerks lunch at Cutlers Hall. This lunch provides the opportunity for the Company to invite other Masters and Clerks who have kindly offered their hospitality in the past.
Every year the Livery Company Masters are invited to a weekend at Ironbridge, which provides the opportunity to get to know the other Masters and Mistresses a little better. The weekend is a mixture of visits to the museums and formal dinners. The second dinner was attended by the Lord Mayor and his two Sheriffs.
It is at this event that the Past Masters Association for the year is formed.
The Mistress and I drove down to West Somerset to have lunch with Bishop George Cassidy and his wife Jane. George was previously the Company Chaplain before he became the Bishop of Southwell, near Nottingham. George is now retired but still carries out duties occasionally for the Bishop of Bristol.
There had been much planning involved in preparing for the T&Bs excursion to France. Everyone arrived safely. The majority travelled by air, but a few took the opportunity to drive to the Languedoc region of Southern France. The three days went exactly to plan with no hitches. We were blessed with beautiful weather and our French partners who provided transport, accommodation and wonderful food and wines, were a delight to be with, including our bus driver Cyril who was a star! Everyone arrived back in the UK safely.
Only three months until the end of the year which seems incredible. Time flies by, but good stamina is required!
The 9th February 2017 was an extremely busy day with three meetings and a dinner all held in Bakers Hall.
The day started with a Communications Committee meeting, chaired by Michel Saminaden. The key discussions at the meeting concerned the Company website which has been experiencing a number of problems. Thankfully these have now been resolved.
Immediately after this meeting, we moved into the Finance Committee meeting, chaired by Simon Martin. The agenda was full and Simon was able to report that the finances are in good shape and on budget, with a strong cash position. Investments had also improved significantly over the last few months.
Common Hall in the evening was attended by just over 50 Liverymen. This is an important meeting in the Company year as it gives Liverymen the opportunity to ask questions of the Master and Wardens. As a first this year, Lesley Day launched the Charity of the Year initiative, and those present were able to vote for a charity from a list of three. The charity selected was ‘The Clink Charity’ which is involved in the rehabilitation of prisoners. At the dinner following Common Hall I gave an overview of my year so far, after which there was lively discussion in a warm and friendly atmosphere as Liverymen were able to chat amongst themselves in an informal manner without the pressures of hosting guests.
The following week started with attendance at an awards ceremony in Merchant Taylors Hall for winners under the Masters Certificate Scheme. The awards were presented by the Lord Mayor.
Accompanied by Liverymen David White and Steve Trott, I visited H G Matthews brickworks to discuss arrangements for a future visit by the Company. Liverymen will be able to witness a traditional brickmaking operation that produces a high quality product.
I travelled to Southwold in Suffolk with Liveryman Barry Blumsom to attend the memorial service for Past Master Hugh Fuller. The church in Southwold is a magnificent building and we were made to feel very welcome by the Fuller family, including Hugh’s wife Anne, Past Masters William, David and Peter Fuller (Father of the Company), along with Upper Warden Jeff Fuller.
Hilary and I undertook another organisational meeting the following day by visiting the Pump Rooms and Roman Baths in Bath. This will be the venue for the Charter Day Event on Sunday 30th July 2017.
The Master chairs the Nominations Committee that, amongst other things, recommends appointments to the Court and proposes a candidate for Renter Warden in Nomination. The members of the Nominations Committee are the Master, Wardens and two Past Masters.
Rochester Cathedral held a fundraising reception at Mercers Hall, which was attended by their Patron, the Countess of Wessex. A junior school choir gave a lovely performance in what must have been quite daunting circumstances for them.
Prior to attending the Craft Committee meeting, I visited the Chamberlains Court at Guildhall to support Michael Simpson as he received the Freedom of the City.
At the Craft Committee we discussed three main issues: the Lincoln Cathedral exhibition, the Craft Awards and the Triennial Awards. This committee is chaired by the Upper Warden, Jeff Fuller, and has responsibility for organising all of the Company’s links with our three Crafts.
Tuesday 28th February 2017 was Pancake Day, another big event in the Livery diary. The T&Bs always enter a team and have a good record of success. Unfortunately our lady competitor, Clare Banks, had to pull out at the last minute due to illness, but fortunately the Mistress agreed to take her place. The Master and the Mistress gave a good account of themselves in their races but the stars of the team, yet again, were James Parris and James Hockley. Both of them won their heats and went on to be first and second in the Grand Final, which meant that the T&Bs were the top team!
At the start of the following week, I chaired the Court meeting at Trinity House, which was followed by the Craft Awards. Whilst many of our events are special, the Craft Awards get to the very hub of what the Company was originally formed to do. It is always a great pleasure to witness so many fine young craftsmen being rewarded for their good works. A long-term friend from business, John White, was our guest speaker. John was CEO and then Chairman of Persimmon Homes, and is now Chairman of McCarthy and Stone. John is a bricklayer by training and was able to relate directly with the young trainees. We finished the day by visiting an art exhibition organized by the Painter-Stainers Company at the Mall Galleries.
The remainder of the week was relatively quiet, but was followed by another busy week. I arranged for a party of 8 T&Bs to attend a play performed in Court No.1 at The Old Bailey, with all of the participants being judges and support staff. The play was entitled ‘Forever Trial and Error’ and gave a very amusing account of past trials and famous barristers.
The following afternoon we were treated to a guided tour of the Museum of London. This is a wonderful museum that is packed with artefacts from throughout the centuries. A very pleasant ‘white tie’ dinner at Carpenters Hall, as guests to the Carpenters Company, completed the day.
We checked out Haberdashers Hall for the Annual Dinner before I travelled to north London to attend the Cadets Awards ceremony.
I started the next week with another ‘white tie’ dinner at the Mansion House as a guest of the Plumbers Company. A very grand occasion! I was very fortunate to be seated next to Sir John Armitt. Sir John has held a number of very senior positions in construction, as well as being Chairman of Network Rail, and Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. A very genuine and interesting man.
The Carmens Company celebrated their 500th anniversary with a service at St. Pauls Cathedral followed by a reception at Stationers Hall. This was a very joyous occasion and was well supported by the Livery.
Another busy week! A visit with Hilary and Ian Mitchell Grimshaw to Chelsea Physic Garden. This will be the venue for the Ladies day in June. Court Assistant John Schofield and his wife Helen kindly invited us along with Deputy Master Tom Rider and his wife Caroline to dinner at The Reform Club where John is currently Chairman. We all enjoyed a super dinner followed by a guided tour of a fascinating building.
We were looking forward to attending the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House dinner for the Livery Companies Masters and it didn’t disappoint. A superb occasion where everyone is made to feel very special!
We started the following day with breakfast at Goldsmiths Hall and then attended the United Guilds Service at St. Pauls Cathedral. A group of T&Bs then walked to Carpenters Hall to join a number of other Livery Companys for a delightful lunch. The Master Carpenter kindly asked me to say a few words on behalf of the guests. Immediately after lunch the week finished with an interview with a prospective new member of the Company.
And there we have it! Within the ‘blink of an eye’ I am half way through my Masters year, and enjoying it immensely!
It is an honour and a privilege to be installed as the Master of the Tylers and Bricklayers’ Company. To follow in a 600 year line of Masters is quite daunting but I look forward to my year with enthusiasm.
As all previous Masters will know, the year starts with a full diary through the months of October, November and December, and it comes as a little bit of a shock to the system as the events and commitments come thick and fast!
Thursday 6th October 2016 was a very special day for Hilary and I and we would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and support. The day of the installation started with a relatively short Court meeting at Carpenters’ Hall, followed by the procession to St Margaret Lothbury for the Installation. Liveryman Steve Trott carried the Company banner with style and the Master, Wardens and Court Assistants followed behind. The procession is a wonderful experience as it is the only time that we are on public view. The installation went very smoothly and was followed by the Church Service. We processed back to Carpenters’ Hall for lunch, after a two year absence, and I was delighted that the Master Carpenter joined us as a guest. A special thanks goes to my guest of honour, Sir Neville Simms, who spoke with interest, relevance and humour.
But the day was not over! After a quick change into evening dress, we managed to get to Grocers’ Hall in time for the Constructors’ Company installation dinner. A full-on first day and the sign of things to come!
To date I have attended 23 events including Company committee meetings.
Following the hectic first day, my first event was the Turners’ Company ‘Wizardry in Wood’ reception at Carpenters’ Hall, which was organized to display the work of some very skilled wood turners. Many pieces of incredible detail were on display and available for sale. This is a craft/industry that seems to be ‘under the radar’ for some reason.
The following day we attended the St Paul’s School concert and supper at Mercers’ Hall. This was a rare opportunity to visit the hall of Company No.1. It was another school event the next day with the City of London School for Girls prize giving at Guildhall, with prizes presented by the Lord Mayor. These prizes included the Noreen Dickins’ prizes which are donated by the T&Bs.
To attend the installation dinner of the Master Builders Merchant at Drapers’ Hall was a special pleasure, as Steve and Christine Turner are very good friends. Steve was in good form and thoroughly enjoyed his day. I have a close connection through business with the Builders Merchants’ community and met many good friends and acquaintances.
Apart from the T&B installation, the highlight of the year so far is probably our trip to Warsaw, as guests of NFRC, to attend the 26th World Championships for Young Roofers. Having some experience of Poles through my ancestry, I was somewhat prepared for their eating and drinking habits. Copious amounts of pork and vodka were made available through their wonderful hospitality, but we managed to maintain consumption at a sensible level. The young roofers, of various disciplines, produced some excellent work, which was rewarded by prizes at a Gala Dinner in the National sports stadium.
Hosted by James Campbell, a Fellow of the College, a group of 30 T&Bs visited Queens’ College, Cambridge. James was able to lead a tour of the college, which was extremely interesting including visits to areas that are not open to the public. The visit concluded with a very pleasant lunch.
All the Masters were present to place a cross at the opening of the Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s, headed by the Lord Mayor. A very moving occasion as one would expect.
This was followed by a short walk to Plaisterers’ Hall for the Plaisterers’ Company training awards lunch. This was the first event at their hall following the renovation after the flooding. This is the largest Livery Hall in the City and has a capacity of 350. It is always a delight to witness young tradesmen being recognized and rewarded for their good work.
More awards followed with the Brick Awards dinner at the Hilton Park Lane. Our Company has a link to this event, as Past Master David Cole-Adams sits on the judging panel. I have attended this event on many occasions and it remains a very lively and boisterous occasion!
The mood changed completely the following day with attendance at the Silent Ceremony – the installation of the new Lord Mayor – in Guildhall. This is a special ceremony to attend due to its long tradition. Apart from the Lord Mayor swearing the oath of office, the whole ceremony is carried out in silence.
Along with other Masters, I was able to hear the Lord Mayor’s annual address to the Livery at Mansion House where he explained his objectives for the year. The Lord Mayor is a very natural speaker who always brings humour to what he says.
The Actuaries’ Company organized a very interesting lecture at Staple Inn Hall, given by economist John Kay. He explained the history of insurance and the subtle difference between insurance and gambling. He also discussed the risks of excessive levels of re-insurance.
We accompanied Jeff and Catherine Fuller to SkillBuild at the NEC, Birmingham. Both NFRC and TTA acted as hosts. All of the three T&B crafts were displayed, by some very talented young craftsmen. The competition pieces were very challenging with the bricklaying piece being extremely difficult. This visit provided the opportunity to meet a number of influential people in our industry.
I was invited by the Carpenters’ Company to the Building Crafts College awards at Carpenters’ Hall. The Carpenters’ Company sponsor this college, which provides places for over 100 students. The college focuses on the crafts of carpentry and stonemasonry. These awards provide great encouragement to the students and provide an incentive for others to join the industry.
The launch of the Big Curry Lunch was held at the City of London Club. The lunch is a Mayoral function that raises significant funds for ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity. £250k was raised in 2016 and the target for 2017 is £450k. The Lord Mayor spoke to the gathering via video link from Kuwait. I was able to discuss the lunch with Court Assistant Simon Martin, who sits on the organizing committee. The T&Bs provide some financial support for this lunch.
Both the Clerk and I attended the Paviors’ Company Autumn Dinner at Drapers’ Hall. This was a very well attended event held in superb surroundings. As with the Builders Merchants, I have historical links to this industry and was able to catch up with some old friends.
In addition to these functions I have attended the Wine Committee, Communications Committee, Craft Committee, Finance Committee and Charitable Trust Trustees meetings. I have also met with a prospective member to explain the history of the Livery Companies and the Tylers and Bricklayers.
All in all, a very enjoyable albeit busy start to the year. Following the Carol Service I have a three week break as we visit our children, Hannah and John, who both live in Melbourne, Australia. Christmas in 30degree heat alongside a BBQ always seems strange, but we will be thinking of you all as we celebrate the Festive Season.
Following a hectic start in October and November, activity slowed slightly in December and January with a pleasant break over Christmas and the New Year.
December began with a service at St Bartholomew’s the Great to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Cutlers Company’s first charter from Henry V in 1416. This church is tucked away in a small alley opposite Haberdashers Hall and parts of it are extremely old. Following the service, a reception was held in the Great Hall at the Old Bailey.
The Lord Mayor’s Awards were held at Mansion House at a small ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor has a very good sense of humour, and asked me to ‘check a couple of dodgy slates on the roof of Mansion House’! The awards are for young people (18-23) who have completed various tasks in many parts of the world. Having spoken to a couple of the winners they are very impressive young people.
My first Court meeting as Master was held at Wax Chandlers Hall prior to the Carol Service. The meeting seemed to go well, although two hours in the Master’s gown is quite a challenge.
The annual Carol service that followed is always a highlight as it starts the festive season for the T&Bs. St Margarets Lothbury was full of Company members and guests who were able to witness an excellent sermon from our Chaplain John Cook, and some wonderful singing from the Lothbury choir. The Mistress delivered one of the readings during the service, which may have been a ‘first’ for the Company. Following the service we adjourned to the City University Club for wine and canapés, taking the opportunity to chat with members of the Company.
Hilary and I left for a three week holiday to Australia the day after the service, primarily to visit our two children, Hannah and John, who live in Melbourne. Whilst in the city ‘The Szymanskis’ were invited to dinner by Liveryman and Steward Brenda Upton-Kemp who is a native of the city. We had a wonderful time catching up with Brenda who served an excellent dinner in keeping with her reputation for presenting good food.
One day after returning from Australia, with the jet lag in full force, I attended a Masons Company lunch and a Plaisterers Company dinner. The Masons lunch was at Mercers Hall, which is always pleasant to visit with the Mercers being No.1 in the order of precedence. The dinner with the Plaisterers Company was a very large and grand occasion with Masters and Clerks from many companies in attendance. The retiring Bishop of London was a guest but unfortunately he didn’t speak.
Coincidently two of the current Masters are friends of mine. Steve Turner, Master Builders Merchant, was a good customer for many years, and Hugh Moss, Master Horner, was a colleague at London Brick in the early eighties. Hugh invited me to a very select Horner’s lunch at Painters Hall, which gave us the opportunity to catch up and reminisce over old times!
That same afternoon, the Wardens and I interviewed a prospective member to the company, before meeting with new members of the Company for supper at Davys St James. This initiative started last year and gives relatively new members of the company the opportunity to ask questions of the Master and Wardens, and also find out how the company operates. We hope to make this a regular annual event.
It is not uncommon for individuals to be members of more than one livery company, in fact some City dignitaries can be members of 6/7/8 companies, usually on an honorary basis. Tom Christopherson has been a Tylers and Bricklayers Liveryman since 1986, but currently he is also Master of the Art Scholars Company, the last livery company to be formed – 110. Tom invited the Mistress and I to their annual dinner at Drapers Hall, which is always magnificent. It was a very pleasant evening that was attended by many TV personalities from the Antiques Roadshow, which is probably not surprising. The guest speaker was Sir Tim Lawrence, Princess Anne’s husband, who is currently Chairman of both English Heritage and the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission. He gave a very interesting speech and stirred memories of my time working in West Flanders, Belgium where many of the war graves are situated.
It is important for all members of the company to promote the company to the wider world and explain what our aims and objectives are. With this in mind I gave a short presentation to the board of the Association of Brickwork Contractors who represent most of the larger bricklaying firms in the UK. Unfortunately, they are not as engaged with us as we would like and as I am a good friend of the Chairman, I took advantage of the invite he gave. Hopefully we will be able to develop the relationship.
January finished off with a superb visit to Hampton Court Palace by the Mistress and I at the invitation of Liveryman Emma Simpson. Emma is a bricklayer by training and specializes in the heritage sector. Most of her and her teams work is at the Royal Palaces and Hampton Court is a good example. Emma is able to use skills and techniques that are quite rare in the 21st century to repair and renovate the brickwork that has deteriorated over 100’s of years. The work that has been done on the extensive garden walls is excellent, but that which has been completed on the magnificent chimney stacks is staggering. Emma must have a good head for heights! This work is a credit to Emma and her team and I would recommend a visit.
As well as being able to attend many special events, the Master has to work with the Clerk to organize Company functions both formal and informal. Often these preparations start months in advance and require careful planning. Fortunately our Learned Clerk is very experienced and guides the Master with great skill.
The diary for February and March gets off to a good start, with Common Hall at Bakers Hall, followed by a continual flow of appointments.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been in touch with two Liverymen who are no longer able to attend our functions. Michael Drown became a liveryman in 1983. When I was a young engineer with London Brick, Michael was company Sales Director. He then went on to work for Westbrick and then Tarmac. Michael lives near Tiverton in Devon. I have also been in touch with the Right Reverend George Cassidy. George was Company chaplain prior to John Cook. George lives near Bridgwater in West Somerset. I plan to meet up with both Michael and George in the Summer.
Finally, it was with great sadness that we heard that Past Master Hugh Fuller had passed away peacefully. Hugh had been a great servant to the Company and had continued the great traditions of the Fullers within the Tylers and Bricklayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anne and the family.
Ironbridge Gorge is described as the birth place of the Industrial Revolution. Each June, the Livery Masters and their consorts pay an annual pilgrimage to this beautiful part of Staffordshire. It is a highlight of every Master’s year and the event was well attended with 95 Masters. As anticipated, the week-end proved an excellent opportunity for Caroline and I to get to know many more of our fellow Masters and Mistresses.
After arriving on the Friday afternoon, we were all entertained to a dinner in The Covered Bays at Coalbrook. Next morning, we were taken by coach on tours to the Iron Bridge itself, spanning the gorge, the Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Jackfield Tile Museum. This fascinating museum, which the Company’s Craft Trust supports with an annual donation, features gas-lit galleries in period room settings, showing the many different places that were decorated with tiles once made at Jackfield.
In the evening we were joined by The Lord Mayor, The Lady Mayoress, both Sheriffs and their partners, for The Presidents Summer Ball at Enginuity in the Engine Shop and Museum at Coalbrookdale. It was great fun. The following morning, and in accordance with tradition, a light-hearted meeting of Masters took place as we formed our Pastmasters’ Association, with the name of the Phoenix (it being of course the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London) and Master Pewterer was elected our chairman.
A fortnight later and we were reunited as the Masters processed into Guildhall for the Election of Sheriffs at Common Hall. We dutifully elected (North Korean style!) two Aldermanic Sheriffs for the coming year: Peter Estlin –- Alderman and International Banker; and William Russell - Alderman and Haberdasher.
A quick lunch and I was back in Guildhall Yard for Armed Forces Flag Day. The Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Sheriffs, took the salute at the raising of the Armed Forces flag. Rear Admiral Nicholas Hine, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, joined the Lord Mayor on the saluting dais. The Band of the Grenadier Guards provided the musical accompaniment.
The following week I attended with Past Masters Nicholas Carter and Julyan Gordon and their wives at the Service of Thanksgiving, in Cucklington, Somerset, for Past Master Christopher Grellier. Nicholas Carter gave one of the eulogies and spoke movingly of Chris’s contribution to the Company over many years. As you will know from the book "They Built London," the Grellier family have played an active part in the activities of the Company for over two centuries.
Next, on 30th June, was the Building Crafts College Exhibition and End of Year Show at Carpenters’ Hall, where I was the guest of Master Carpenter. The level of skill shown by the students of the College in Stratford was highly impressive.
The Lord Mayor’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Stephen Walbrook at the beginning of July has become an annual event in recent years with the investiture of The Lord Mayor as an honorary Warden. It was well attended. The Intercessions were given by Rev Sally Muggeridge, the Assistant Curate, and the wife of Liveryman David Williams. It is a fascinating church with its large, carved stone altar by Henry Moore situated in the centre, with the circular pews spanning outwards from it.
I have always wanted to visit Innholders’ Hall in College Street; I pass it daily on my way to work. The opportunity came with invitations to the Clerk and myself from Master Cook to their Livery Luncheon. The hall was rebuilt after the Great Fire, damaged in World War 1, severely damaged in World War 2 and fully restored in 1950. Being one of the smaller halls, it has a feeling of intimacy. Needless to say, the food and wine at the lunch were superb.
That evening a group of 20 from the Company met at the Monument for one of the guided walks organised by Master Chartered Architect. We traced part of the route of the Great Fire down to Blackfriars on what was a rare, barmy evening. This enjoyable tour is reported more fully on the Events page.
My last event in July was a dinner and tour of the Old Bailey, when Caroline and I were the guests of Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden and Stephen Rigden. We were joined by Master Pewterer and his wife and Master Framework Knitter. On a sweltering evening and after a full tour, including the cells, our thirst was slaked by champagne served in the flutes given by the Company from bottles opened by sword by the Sheriff. She has clearly not wasted her year!