This morning Maureen and I were privileged to attend the opening of the Annual Garden of Remembrance at St. Paul's Cathedral in the presence of the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.
The proceedings commenced with the arrival of the Military Band of Welsh Guards and the Parade of Standards, a magnificent sight. An open air Service of Remembrance followed, conducted by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's. The choirs of the City of London School and the City of London School for Girls sang beautifully along with the whole congregation, hymns that could be heard all around the St. Paul's Cathedral surrounds.
Then came the highlight of the service, the Exhortation, the Last Post and the Two Minutes Silence. This was followed by the planting of crosses by everyone present while the choirs sang "Be still my soul" accompanied by the Band of the Welsh Guards. When it came to the turn of the Masters of the Livery Companies to plant their crosses, we were all directed masterfully by the Regimental Sergeant Major.
This was an uplifting Service of Remembrance in the recognition of the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community and their unique contribution in safeguarding our freedoms and values, truly inspiring.
This evening a group of Tylers and Bricklayers were treated to the most amazing fireworks display in London. The scene of this fantastic display was at the wonderful home of our Renter Warden, Professor John Schofield and his family, who had kindly invited us to a fireworks party. The spacious and tasteful apartment is in a most delightful setting, overlooking Blackheath. On arrival we were greeted warmly by John and Helen and their daughter Lucy , and the champagne started flowing immediately. There was a wonderful group of friends, both Tylers and Bricklayers and others, and we all chatted happily together.
At 8:00pm we all gathered on the amazing roof terrace of the apartment to have an excellent view of the lovely fireworks display given jointly by Greenwich and Lewisham Councils. What a wonderful display it was!
After the display we continued the festivities until late, eating the most delicious canapés and drinking delightful champagne. Everybody had a truly wonderful evening for which we must thank John, Helen, Lucy and the whole family.
I was very pleased to be invited to join the T&B wine committee for their annual luncheon today. The Company wine committee is comprised of a dedicated group of Liverymen wine connoisseurs who work tirelessly to make sure that the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers consistently provides the best quality wines, champagnes, port and other fine drinks at all of our functions. It is due to their enthusiasm and expertise that the Company has such a good reputation in the City for the superb quality of the wines we serve at our luncheons and dinners.
This year the luncheon was held at the wonderful Tappit Hen Wine Bar and Restaurant, which takes its name from the traditional 2.1 litre Port bottle, and there are references to the building’s rich wine history throughout. We were joined by Francis Flavin, Head of Wholesale at Davey's who helped guide us through the excellent wines offered today. It was a double celebration for Francis today - his birthday and the recent arrival of a new baby daughter, for which hearty congratulations were given by the committee.
The theme for today's luncheon was the 2009 vintage and we were treated to some excellent quality wines that had been sourced by the wine committee members. Examples of the fine wines included a rich Cote Rotie Michel and Stephane Ogier, Rhone Valley, a crisp Sancerre Blanc Francois Cotat and an elegant and pungent Valserrano Gran Reserva Blanco, Rioja. As would be expected, the wines complemented the delicious food perfectly and everyone had a delightful afternoon. I was very grateful to the wine committee members, and especially the chairman, Past Master Philip Parris, for inviting me to share in this great tradition.
Tonight it was the turn of the Master Builders' Merchant, Dame Fiona Woolf DBE DL, to be installed, and what a grand occasion it was. The celebration dinner was held at the Mansion House, a White Tie event full of pomp and ceremony.
On entering the magnificent colonnaded rooms, Maureen and I were officially greeted by the new Master and Wardens, and were then whisked away by Past Master Builders' Merchant to a special room for visiting Masters and others where we were introduced to several more Liverymen and Past Masters. Following some very interesting conversation accompanied by some wonderful champagne we were called to dinner at 7:30 pm. The Mansion House was magnificently decorated with beautiful flowers and looked quite breathtaking. I recognised many Masters from various Livery Companies taking their seats at the top table. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Immediate Past Master Pippa Latham and Clare Dwyer, wife of Colonel Brennan Dwyer of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, both immensely interesting companions for the evening. Maureen was also very fortunate to be seated between the Master Constructor, The Hon. Sir Vivian Ramsey (whose Installation we had attended two weeks previously) and Andrew Day, Past Master Builders' Merchant.
We dined on Cured Salmon and Quail Egg, Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Confit Leg Samosa and Vegetables, followed by Spiced Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla and Chocolate Sponge and Yuzu Jelly, all accompanied by fine wines and Port, and rounded off with a Martell VS Cognac.
The Ceremony of the Loving Cup followed the loyal and civic toasts given by the new Master. The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley gave the response and the Junior Warden toasted the guests. The main speaker of the evening was Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan & Estate at the Science Museum Group who gave an interesting speech about the work of the Science Museums.
We then had the delight of listening to the wonderful Post Horn Gallop performed very amusingly and masterfully by the London Banqueting Ensemble. To round off the evening the Master invited all guests to join her in a stirrup cup. Another wonderful evening of celebration.
This evening the magnificent Merchant Taylors' Hall was the venue for the Installation of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors, John Woodman Esq. On arrival I was greeted by a wonderful host who accompanied me to the gardens via the receiving line. I was surprised to see that the beautiful gardens were completely covered over with a large semi-permanent Autumn shelter which did an excellent job of keeping us all warm and comfortable. I met several of my colleague Masters, who I am getting to recognise, and was introduced to some of the Liverymen of the Worshipful Company whilst sipping fine champagne.
At 7:30pm we were called in to the splendid hall for dinner, marching in to music by the London Banqueting Ensemble. Following Grace by the Renter Warden we dined on Sea Trout, Avocado and Dill, followed by Grilled Norfolk Supreme of Chicken, with Warm Apple Tartin to finish, a delicious meal accompanied by very good wines.
In time honoured tradition, the Loving Cup Ceremony was performed, much to the delight of all present, after which the Master proposed the toasts. We were very fortunate to have both Sheriffs present, and the Aldermanic Sheriff, Professor Michael Mainelli made an interesting speech and proposed the toast to the Company. The reply was made by Mrs Elizabeth Pearce, CBE, Liveryman.
The evening ended with a wonderful Post Horn Gallop performed very amusingly and impeccably by two members of the Ensemble.
Another wonderful evening in great company.