Common Hall for the Election of the New Lord Mayor of London
It was an early start as I struggled to get to the City following power failures and trees on the line on the local railway network. I was somewhat relieved to find a seat on a train as the game of “sardines” was played out on the train as a result of so many cancellations.
I reached the Members Dining Room of Guildhall feeling just a bit flustered but Mark Groves who was hosting the breakfast soon sat me down with a glass of some bubbles and I relaxed and enjoyed the delicious breakfast he and his colleagues served up.
The it was down into the Crypt to gown up and attend the church service prior to the election of the Lord Mayor in St Lawrence Jewry, just across Guildhall Yard. As I sat in the church the sun was pouring through the stain glass windows lightening up the Church where the Civic Party, Aldermen and 110 Livery Masters worshipped.
After the Service it was time to process into Guildhall itself to take part in Common Hall. This was to be quite a special occasion for the Ts & Bs as our Company Apprentice Onyinye had been invited to speak about how her life had changed when she became our Presentee at Christs Hospital.
It is fair to say the election was a bit of a foregone conclusion with Alderman William Russell elected unanimously by those present. Whilst we awaited the formal procedures carried out by the Aldermen the Assistant Town Clerk talked about the importance that the City places on education and then invited Onyinye to speak. She talked about her life and how it had changed following support from the Tylers and Bricklayers, and as I listened I felt like a very proud Mum with a few tears in my eyes – I hope that Onyinye’s parents were able to see the video and were also proud of her achievements.
At the conclusion of Common Hall we left to enjoy a lunch at a local hostelry with Onyinye as our guest of honour and I was very pleased to be able to return her Christs Hospital Medallion as an extra reminder of the day.
Musicians Evensong at St Pauls
After lunch it was time to walk over to St Pauls to gown up and take part in the Musicians Company Evensong along with some 100 Livery Masters and Members.
Being able to sit in St Pauls for a church service during the year has been wonderful, especially to listen to the voices of the young choristers with their angelic voices. As well as singing hymns the choirs also sang prayers and anthems. There was a particularly poignant few minutes as the Royal College of Music String Orchestra played Elegy for Strings in memory of the Musicians who has passed away during the year.
Lunching with the Builders Merchants
Malcolm and I had happily accepted an invitation to join Master Builders Merchant Pippa Latham and her Consort Fabian for the final formal event of her year as Master. The event at Tallow Chandlers Hall felt like more of a lunch with friends than a formal Livery event as there were six others Masters and their Consorts at the lunch, all of whom had become friends over the past 11 months.
After a delicious lunch we listened to their Honorary Chaplain Rev. Canon Roger Hall who had recently taken a sabbatical and who talked about his experiences. He had spent time in Ethiopia living with some villagers in, what in the UK, would consider some very basic conditions, i.e. with no running water or toilets! During this time he was able to help local charities, eg Wateraid, and to visit parts of the country that few Europeans will have seen.
Worshipful Company of Actuaries Livery Lecture
After lunching with the Builders Merchants it was time to talk to Staple Inn to join the Actuaries for their annual lecture, and to celebrate their Ruby (40th) Anniversary. The lecturer was Sarah Winckless MBE. Sarah is a former British rower. She won a bronze medal in Double sculls with her partner Elise Laverick at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and was twice world champion, in 2005 and 2006. She won the Helen Rollason Award in 2013.
Sarah now runs a business consultancy working with firms and talking about her life as a rower linking it to management training. What I found difficult to appreciate was that Sarah considered herself an “imposter”. I had always assumed Olympic athletes to be full of confidence and driven people setting themselves some very high goals!
After the lecture I had a pleasant supper with fellow Masters.
Our new Presentee at Christ’s Hospital School
Mohammed Rahman, known to everyone as Kiyan, is the Company’s second Presentee to begin life at Christ’s Hospital School. Past Master Tom Rider, who has been appointed Donation Governor, and I travelled down to Christ’s to present Kiyan with his Tylers and Bricklayers Livery Medal.
Christ’s Hospital has always struck me as a very special learning place with its history dating back into history and in some beautiful Sussex countryside.
We met Sarah Clifton, who acts as the Liaison between Livery Companies and the School. She explained that Kiyan had settled well into the school and that had the potential to be a high achiever in the years ahead.
We lunched in the dining hall with the Principal, Sarah, Kiyan and some of the senior school monitors. It turns out that as well as enjoying maths, a very confident Kiyan is a football fan following Chelsea, and is now learning to play the piano and learning pool from one of his fellow house mates.
After lunch we walked over to the chapel for a very simple ceremony where the Chaplain blessed Kiyan’s Tylers and Bricklayers Medal, with PM Tom presenting the medal to Kiyan, who also received a certificate from the school commemorating the event.
I had a small gift of a couple of books for Kiyan which I hope he will enjoy reading.
We hope to stay in regular touch with Kiyan over the coming years and to watch him grow into what we think will be a very assured young man.
Installation of the new Sheriffs
Much to my surprise and delight I had been invited to witness the installation of the new Sheriffs of the City of London and to attend the Sheriff’s Breakfast afterwards.
The Ceremony took place in the Great Hall at Guildhall where Sheriffs Elect Alderman Michael Mainelli and Chris Hayward were surrounded by family and friends.
The Ceremony began with a procession into the Hall by City Officials, Aldermen and the outgoing and incoming Sheriffs. I will always remember the procession as it begins with the click click of heels on the stone floors of the Hall. The Sheriffs Elect are required to make an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, City and to uphold the laws in their roles of supporting the Judges at the Old Bailey. They signed Certificates using a feather pen, much to the interest of the guests watching. Having done this the robes and chains of office were removed from the outgoing Sheriffs and handed to the incoming Sheriffs. Thereafter the procession left the Hall.
I was delighted to see some fellow Masters at the event. World Trader, Mariner and Framework Knitter have become firm friends so we were able to Toast the new Sheriffs before sitting down with other guests at the Sheriff’s Breakfast in the Old Library.
I was delighted to be sitting beside Jeremy Crossley, who is so well known to the Tylers and Bricklayers and Robin Scott. Both were delightful Company and we talked much about the Livery movement and the current political situation. The menu had been specially designed for the event and was delicious.
After toasts to Her Majesty, the Royal Family and the City of London His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC the Recorder of London proposed a toast to and thanks outgoing Sheriffs Liz Green and Vincent Keaveny along with their Consorts for their work during the year. A toast to the new Sheriffs was proposed by Professor Jo Delahunty QC to which both Sheriffs replied.
Then it was time for guests to leave and the Sheriffs to begin what will undoubtedly be a very busy year ahead.
Reception with the Master of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers
As well as acting as Ambassadors for our respective Livery Companies the Masters also become good friends because we meet up so often at events in and around the City. So, it was a pleasure to accept an invitation from Master International Banker Mark and his wife Helen.
On this occasion it was all about catching up with the Masters who had already finished their term of office and those who were still in position. It reminded me just how important the Past Masters Association (in our case Apollo 19) will be to ensure that we all stay in touch and continue the friendships made!
Civic Dinner with the Chief Commoner and the City Remembrancer
I had to leave the drinks reception early to join other guests for a Civic Dinner held by the Chief Commoner, Past Master Tyler and Bricklayer Tom Hoffman, and City Remembrancer Paul Doble in the Chief Commoner’s Parlour at Guildhall.
Before the event a list of the guests had been circulated so I had an inkling of who I was to dine with. Amongst the guests was Rev. Stephen Golding who had just retired as Chaplain to Christ’s Hospital School, so we had a little chat about Company Apprentice Onyinye, who Stephen remembered well! Alongside me for the first course of the dinner was Commander Glynn Johns, Chief of Staff of Eastern England Naval Regional Command who explained his region was from Lincolnshire down to Kent! I also sat alongside Martin Everett who had, in former years, supplied wines to the Ts & Bs. After the second course I met Paul Batchelor, brother of Past Master Turner David, small world, and our chat included the current political turmoil and the roles of Livery Companies.
The Parlour was a room I had not yet visited in Guildhall; it had the most beautiful barrelled ceiling and paintings adorning the walls.
We dined superbly on fish, venison and fruit with some very splendid wine to accompany the evening.
Walking the Livery Halls
The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners arrange an annual walk of 39 Livery Halls to raise funds for the Sheriff & Recorders Fund, so it was an early train for me and a short walk along the river the HQS Wellington for breakfast and briefing.
Thankfully the weather was dry, but with all Masters fully gowned it did get very warm as we progressed through the City!
After the briefing we set off in an easterly direction, along with a photographer to mark our visit to each hall. With most of the hall it was just a case of a photograph outside, but we had the opportunity of visiting the IT Hall, the Girdlers Hall with its beautiful tapestry, Draper’s and Leatherseller’s Halls.
We were most grateful for the breaks for drinks at Salters Hall and the Dutch Church, lunch at Armourers Hall and we were greeted by the Dean of Southwark Cathedral as we finished the walk at Glaziers Hall.
I will admit to some very tired warm feet and enjoyed a wonderfully cooling shower when I got home.
The Company Apprentice
Our Company Apprentice Onyinye who we supported through Christ’s Hospital has now achieved a degree and is working towards her Masters before beginning a career with Deloittes.
She has been invited to address Common Hall in October and wanted to meet up to talk through the Address and to catch up generally. She will be talking to the audience in the Great Hall about how her life has changed since she began at Christ’s Hospital, all thanks to the Ts &Bs.
She is a remarkable young lady with many City connections already in place. I am sure her address will be carried out with aplomb and over a dozen Tylers and Bricklayers will be in the Hall to support her on this very special occasion.
Past Masters planning ahead
To ensure that Masters of the current year have the chance of staying in touch after their year ends, Past Masters Groups are set up.
I had volunteered to be part of the Committee and we spent a useful couple of hours sorting out banking arrangements, websites and our first event which will be a black tie dinner at Blacksmiths Hall in November.
Dining with the Painter Stainers
I am sure every Mater approaches their final Court and Livery Dinner with a sense of sadness that a wonderful year is coming to an end. I had been invited to join Master Painter Stainer along with some 10 other Masters for his final dinner.
Painters Hall is one of the most beautiful halls in the City with its main hall adorned with some stunning portraits and stained glass windows.
We dined on some mouth melting lamb along with some delightful wines and I had the pleasure of sitting next to two Past Masters who were excellent company. One had a home in Barra and he regaled me with many stories of that lovely part of Scotland. The other had had a most interesting life and had retired to Suffolk.
Master Painter Stainer was a delightful host and I shall look back on the evening with pleasure.
It was a beautiful sunny day as we drove round the M25 to Burnham Beeches Golf Club for the Annual Tylers and Bricklayers Golf Day, where we were to be joined by the Actuaries.
Being a golf widow I had decided to go camera in hand to take photos, one of which hopefully would be my “photo of the week” for my photographic group, and to walk the course.
It turns out that Past Master Nick Carter had been born less than ½ a mile from the Club and his father’s name was on the board for two competitions!
I walked part of the course with the last Group, having photographed all the golfers as they tee’d off from the first, and then walked over to the 8th to meet the first group (taking time out to check us in for our trip to Glasgow the following morning – such is the life of a Livery Master!).
Burnham Beeches GC is a very well cared for course and, according to the Consort, not too narrow! Having said that there were a couple of lost balls on the way round, not only by hubby!
Having completed the course it was time for a wash and brush up and a long drink of something cold and then a very pleasant meal.
I had the honour of presenting the prizes for nearest the pin, nearest the pin in 2, longest drive, and for the best golfers on the day. It was good to see that our visitors and Ts&Bs received some well deserved awards!
The Incorporation of Masons of Glasgow
Earlier in the year David Maclaren, a past Deacon of the Incorporation of Masons got in touch with an invitation to attend the Choosing Dinner for the new Deacon, John Brown, to take place at Trades Hall in Glasgow. Trades Hall is the home of 14 crafts and was established in 1605 and has a very similar ethos to the Livery Companies of London.
Both David MacLaren and John Brown are bricklayers by trade having both been lecturers at the City of Glasgow College, and both had attended our Craft Awards and the invitation came with a wish that the Tylers and Bricklayers Company and the Incorporation could open a channel of communication.
Malcolm and I had travelled to Glasgow the evening before with the intention of spending a little time seeing the Merchant City (where Trades Hall is based), Kelvingrove Museum and some of the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The sun shone for the whole day which made for a most enjoyable visit.
Glasgow is fortunate that so many of its lovely buildings avoided Mr Hitler’s bombs and so we could see the splendour of Trades Hall at its best. We were welcomed by the Deacon and taken for pre-dinner drinks with other members of the “chain gang” ie other craft members of Trades Hall. Everyone was very welcoming and it did not take long to learn about the work of all the Crafts, which was so similar to the ethos of London livery companies. Also attending was Master Mason and his Consort.
Top table guests were piped into the Hall and I had the pleasure of sitting next to Paul Little, Principal of the City of Glasgow College. The College is now home to 40,000 students aged from 10 to 80, and learning a myriad of skills. I had a long talk with Paul about the matter of training the next generation of craftsmen and it would seem to me that the College is doing very well in this respect.
After an enjoyable meal it was time for toasts and prize giving. The Incorporation awarded 19 prizes to stonemasons, bricklayers, tilers, roofers, plumbers and plasterers as well as Army Cadets. Amongst the winners was Mark Scott, the wall and floor tiler who had represented the UK at World Skills, Kazan. It was a pleasure to see Mark again and he told me that he is now helping to train the next tiler from his Company who is heading to WorldSkills UK in November. I also met his employer who happily takes on apprentices to ensure the future of his Company.
Much to my surprise and delight I was honoured to become a member of the Incorporation of Masons and to become a Freeman Citizen of Glasgow at the end of the evening.
I do hope that the Tylers and Bricklayers will begin a formal “friendship” with the Incorporation of Masons; I am sure there is much we can learn and help each other with.
Court Meeting and Livery Dinner
After a quiet couple of weeks in August when the City effectively closes down for holidays, it was back to business!
Our September Court Meeting and Livery Dinner was to be held at the very newly restored and refurbished Butcher’s Hall in Smithfield. I had hoped to visit the Hall early in the week, but our dear granddaughter had given us both a bug and travel to London was off the menu!
There is much work going on around Butchers Hall which makes it a little difficult to find, but a walk with Master World Trader around the area a few weeks earlier ensured I found the Hall without too much difficulty.
The stonework outside the Hall had been completely clean and as soon as I walked into the front door I could smell the “newness”! I was given a tour of the building was was now suited to the 21st Century requirements with a kitchen in the basement linked to serveries on all floors by lift. There was much use of terrazzo tiles and light coloured walls making it a light bright place. The Livery Hall had had its tapestry fully cleaned and restored, and the three chandeliers fully cleaned. A full complement of new tables and chairs made for very comfortable sitting!
The Court Meeting agenda was completed in record time, allowing the Assistants to repair to a local hostelry for an hour whilst the Wardens and I remained to enjoy a few quiet moments before the evening began.
Company guests for the event included Master Young Freeman who I had met over the summer, Master World Trader who had become a firm friend over the year, Master Environmental Cleaner who had spent his childhood in Berkshire in many of the same places as Malcolm, and Master Launderer.
Principal Guest was Suzannah Nichol MBE, CEO of Build UK, who I had known for, we think 17-18 years in my working life, and a lovely lady too!
After a delicious meal it was time for speeches. I welcomed the Guests, Suzie spoke with great enthusiasm on what a great place the construction industry is to work in. My closing speech was a mini-summary of the year and that I had hoped to show off our three crafts. I also thanked my “Prince Philip”, and all who had helped make the past 11 months so successful. Thankfully I managed to keep my emotions in control. Our personal guests had noted the crack in my voice early in the speech!