It is a rare treat to be able to re-acquire treasure lost from the Company many years ago, probably in the 1920s. I am delighted that such an opportunity has just arisen, and we were able to purchase a pair of silver pudding trowels given to the Company. Together with a third trowel which remained in the Company’s possession, this set of three was commissioned in 1770 by Henry Wallis (Master), Henry Holland (Upper Warden) and John Watkins (Renter Warden). The third pudding trowel is illustrated in the Company History by Dr Penelope Hunting, “They built London”, on page 139.
The silversmith, William Plummer, was known for his high quality pierced work and had been apprenticed to Edward Aldridge, a very well-regarded maker. Henry Holland (senior) was the father of the Whig architect Henry Holland (junior), had a large brickmaking and building practice based in Fulham, and worked extensively with architect Robert Adam.
The trowels are in exceptional condition and have a length of 11.9 inches and a width, at the widest point, of 4.6 inches. They were recently acquired through the London silver dealer Mary Cooke Antiques from an important large collection of silver trowels.
The trowels are modelled with triangular blades pierced with foliate scroll work and flower heads. The centre displays a vacant circular cartouche and the edge is also engraved with an outer band of stylised foliate designs. The cast handle meets the blade with a double shell moulding and the top of the stem displays beautiful scroll work in relief, on a matted ground.
The reverse displays the arms of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers in addition to the inscription on the stem "The Gift of Mr Henry Wallis Master, Mr Henry Holland Upper Warden, Mr John Watkins Renter Warden 1770".
I am very grateful to Past Master Ian Mitchell Grimshaw for bringing these trowels to the Company’s attention.
Over the last two weeks, I have had the great pleasure of attending three award ceremonies, celebrating the skills of young people in pursuit of excellence in building crafts.
Together with Chairman of the Craft committee, Court Assistant David White, I visited the SkillBuild competition finals in Edinburgh. The roofing competition took place in a marquee in the college car park, and competitors showed significant resilience in overcoming the adverse weather conditions. In contrast, the bricklayers and wall and floor tilers had rather better locations inside the main Edinburgh college building.
I was honoured to be asked to present the stretch award for bricklaying, and there were also stretch awards for roof slating and tiling and wall and floor tiling. The winners will be invited to our Craft Awards in March 2023 at Trinity House.
We will welcome back Jordan Maley (on the right), an apprentice at South Lanarkshire College, who was awarded the gold medal in roof slating and tiling for a second consecutive year.
The next week, I was delighted to be invited to the Plaisterers’ Training awards luncheon with a wide range of awards in eight different categories, championing skills in plastering and internal systems.
A few days later, together with Craft Committee chairman David White, I attended the Building Craft College awards ceremony at Carpenters Hall. Presenting the prizes was Guest of Honour and Liveryman of our company, Emma Simpson MBE. The Tylers and Bricklayers award for best bricklayer went to Sam Widdop (centre). Many great young craftsmen were present, and I was delighted to be able to acknowledge the excellence of their achievements.
The Silent Ceremony
On Friday 11 November 2022, together with the Mistress and Liverymen Diana Malzer and Martin Reading, I attended the Silent Ceremony at Guildhall. This is is the occasion during which the new Lord Mayor of London is sworn into office, and it takes place on the day before the Lord Mayor’s Show (usually second Saturday in November). As the name implies, no speeches are given, and the actions are performed in total silence apart from the swearing of the oath.
Guildhall was packed with City and Livery representatives to witness this historic occasion. Television screens around the perimeter of the hall allowed a better view of the ceremony which lasted about half an hour. After a long line of civic dignitaries have processed into the hall, there is a passage of the badges of office between the outgoing and the new Lord Mayor, including the ceremonial sword and sceptre of office.
After the ceremony was over, the new Lord Mayor, Alderman Nicholas Lyons and Lady Mayoress Felicity Lyons remained in Guildhall Yard for a series of photographs
It was a wonderful ceremony, and Guildhall yard was packed with well-wishers waving to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress as they left for the short journey by car to Mansion house. The Company wishes them both an enjoyable and productive year in these important and historic roles supporting the City of London and the Corporation.
The Lord Mayor's Show
For the first time in many years, the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers participated in the Lord Mayor’s show by marching in the Senior Livery Companies’ float. Our walking party comprised The Master, Upper Warden Chris Causer, Renter Warden Jenny Rolls and standard bearer Liveryman Martin Reading. We were waved off by The Clerk, Heather Smith, who with her husband, Robert, had assembled and transported our large white and red placard bearing the legend “We Built London”.
We started with a light breakfast at Ironmongers’ Hall, and emerged to see the procession starting to line up. Luckily we ended up marching at the front of the Senior Livery Companies’ float, striding out along the processional route, past the Bank of England, where staff were waving from the rooftop, past Mansion House where we waved to the Lord Mayor and the Mayoral party in their grandstand. We were cheered along the way by members of the Company who had turned up in support.
We eventually arrived at Carmens’ Hall on Fleet Steet, right next to the Royal Courts of Justice and opposite our bankers, Hoares and Company. The Carmen kindly hosted us for lunch in their upstairs hall which contains a great collection of transport-related memorabilia.
After a leisurely lunch, we regrouped on the Embankment for the walk back to London Wall, to be joined by Past Master Ian Mitchell Grimshaw who had been lunching nearby on HQS Wellington. We set off on our way back with the sun beating down on us. The combination of heavy ceremonial robes, a cracking pace and unseasonally warm weather meant we didn’t get cold at any stage!
On the return leg, there were still plenty of spectators cheering our float, and was a real pleasure to be able to support the Lord Mayor’s show as well as represent the Company. We were blessed with perfect weather, which always helps! Hopefully there will be a similar opportunity next year, and I would encourage everyone to come to a really enjoyable day out.
On Thursday 10 November, Helen and I attended the Brick Awards as the guest of Court Assistant Keith Aldis, CEO of the Brick Development Association. The event was introduced by Keith, and compered by Hugh Dennis, comedian from Radio 4’s “The Now Show” and “Mock the Week”. Hugh explained the importance of clay bricks (hurray) with a history of 9000 years over concrete bricks (boo). He was supported by Peter Dickson, the famous voice-overartist, who is instantly recognisable. There was a strong sustainability theme emphasised by a forest green backdrop.
Awards was given in 14 categories, ranging from individual housing development to urban regeneration, with special categories for innovation, craftsmanship and specialist brickwork contactor, and this year for the first time two awards for sustainability. Radley College Chapel extension in Abingdon, designed by Purcell Architecture limited, brickwork manufacturer Northcot Brick, and brickwork contactor OG Stonemasonry Contactors limited, drew particular praise and won in several categories finally being declared the Supreme winner.
A particular favourite of the judging panel, which included Past Master David Cole Adams and Liveryman Ian Wilson, was the restoration of Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland, where mentorship of local contractors was an integral part of the process.
It was wonderful to see several Tylers and Bricklayers in the audience, including Past Mater David Szymanski, and perhaps some future members of the Company too!