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On the afternoon of Thursday 20 October, I travelled to Chatham to attend the Corps Guest Dinner at the Officers Mess, RE Headquarters, as guest of the Chief Royal Engineer. I took the opportunity for a swift visit the Tylers and Bricklayers sundial, designed by Past Master Piers Nicholson, at the Royal Engineers Museum nearby.

Guests mustered at Officers’ mess at Brompton Barracks, a wonderful building from around 1812, and I was greeted by a friend of many years, Major General Mungo Melvin. We walked together across the parade ground for pre-dinner drinks at Pasley house at the invitation of Brigadier Guy Boxall, Commandant RSME. We then processed back to the Officers’ mess for a superb five course dinner with around 250 officers and guests.


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On Wednesday 19 October I attended the House of Commons with Chairman of the Craft committee Court Assistant David White for the awards ceremony of Youthbuild UK. The Young Builder of the Year awards celebrate the achievement of young people, often from very difficult backgrounds, who have overcome a range of challenges and barriers. Awards are made in two categories, age 14-18 years in education or apprenticeship and age 19-25 years in construction-based employment. After opening remarks, the YBUK Chairman, Ian Davis introduced the President, the Rt Hon Sir John Hayes MP, who described the importance of these awards and the work of Youthbuild UK in supporting young builders in adversity. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, was also present for the ceremony.

Winner in the 14-18 year old category was Charlie Hill, trainee bricklayer nominated by St Edmunds Society and winner the 19-25 year old category was Dan Boam, assistant site manager nominated by Bromford. We met afterwards with Lorraine Bliss, CEO of St Edmunds Society, who is very grateful for the support given by our Company to the charity.

We want to do more as a Company in this area, and the new bursary scheme is intended to give financial assistance and mentorship to apprentices at an early stage in their career.


Masters are advised by their Clerks and by Past Masters that September will be a very busy month. The City returns from well earned holidays in late July and August and there are a wide range of Livery lunches, dinners, lectures and visits to look forward to, as well as the installation of the new Sheriffs and the election of the next Lord Mayor at Common Hall on the last Thursday of the month.

I was not surprised therefore that my diary for September was full, with the month starting with a Court meeting and Lunch at Watermen’s Hall on 1 September (see the report in the event reports on the website) and the Glasgow In London dinner at Plaisterers’ Hall on 6 September.

The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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I was in London on the afternoon of 8 September at a meeting of the organising committee for the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch 2023. Sheriff Nicholas Lyons (Lord Mayor for 2022-23, subject to election) announced at the start of the meeting that a medical bulletin had been issued from Balmoral and he asked the committee to join him in sending best wishes to HM the Queen. I went from the LMBCL committee meeting to the Old Bailey where the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust were to host a lecture. We were gathering for a pre-lecture drink when an announcement was made that the Queen had died and that the lecture would, of course, be cancelled. The news was sudden, shocking, numbing and very sad.

One of my first thoughts was how should the Company and the Livery collectively respond to the death of the Queen? What would be expected of the Master? I immediately drafted, and the webmaster posted, a tribute to the Queen on the Company website. I then turned to the guidance from the City Remembrancer to the Livery Companies which is updated each year. There is no formal role for the Livery Companies following the death of a monarch although Masters were invited by the Lord Mayor to join him at Mansion House, gowned and badged, for the proclamation of the new King which took place on the morning of Saturday 10 September. I was in Rome for the weekend (a long-planned family trip) and was therefore unable to attend this brief ceremony.

All City and Livery events in the period of National Mourning were cancelled. I travelled into London during this period and signed the Book of Condolence established by the Corporation at Guildhall on behalf of the Company.

The Craft Visit to Shropshire
The funeral of the late Queen took place on Monday 19 September, and we were therefore able to go ahead with the Craft visit to Shropshire on 20-21 September.

A party of 22 members and guests visited Craven Dunnill, the renowned tile manufacturer, on Tuesday 20 September. The Company is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and has manufactured tiles at its factory in Jackfield, in the Ironbridge Gorge, since 1874.

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We were welcomed by Liverymen Adrian Blundell and Chris Cox. Chris explained the history of the Company and gave a fascinating tour of the site. We then split into two groups for a tour of the floor and wall tile manufacturing facilities. Much of the process would be instantly recognisable to the founders of the firm but with the introduction of modern techniques, such as 3-D scanning, to enable tiles to be matched and molds created for restoration projects remarkably quickly. After lunch we had an opportunity to make an encaustic tile and to visit the wonderful Jackfield Tile Museum which contains the astonishing and eclectic collection of John Scott, an Honorary Liveryman until his death a few years ago.

2022 Masters Blog Sept 3Tiles from the John Scott collection in the Jackfield Tile Museum

We spent the night at the Lion and Pheasant Hotel in Shrewsbury. We enjoyed a lively dinner, to which we welcomed Liverymen Adrian Blundell, Chris Cox and Simon Howells and their partners. Simon is the MD of Craven Dunnill and the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the business since his great-great-grandfather became a shareholder in the early 20th century. It was a memorable evening of good food and wine and the happy sound of conversation between old friends and new acquaintances.

On Wednesday 21 September we travelled back to Ironbridge for a fascinating introduction to the site and the famous Iron Bridge, before moving on to Blists Hill. Blists Hill is a 52 acre open-air museum on a former 19th century industrial site which recreates the sights, sounds and smells of a Shropshire town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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A full report of this interesting and enjoyable craft visit will appear in the events section of the website shortly.

Sheep Drive over London Bridge

Every candidate to join the Company is surely told at interview that when they become a Freeman of the City of London, they will have the right to drive sheep over London Bridge. Once a year, the Worshipful Company of Woolmen give Freemen of the City an opportunity to exercise this ancient right and privilege.

On Sunday 25 September, I went to London Bridge with my wife, Jenny, and other members of my family, and drove a small flock of rather docile sheep a short way across the Bridge. It is a symbolic act but great fun. There was a small street fair, with several Livery Companies running stalls to sell related craft goods, and demonstrations of shearing and weaving. It was an enjoyable event, well organised (no sheep escaped!) and raises a substantial sum for charity. Definitely recommended for every Liveryman at least once and added incentive for every Freeman to apply to the Chamberlain’s Court to be admitted as a Freeman of the City of London.

2022 Masters Blog Sept 5The Master nervously waiting with his flock

2022 Masters Blog Sept 6Proof of a successful crossing!

Time to say Goodbye
This is my final Master’s Blog. I have had a wonderful, varied and hugely enjoyable year as the 440th Master of the Worshipful Company of the Tylers and Bricklayers. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Master of this great Company but I am ready now to hand on the Master’s badge, gown and responsibilities to the Master Elect, John Schofield, at the Installation on 6 October.

Thank you for reading these blogs and for your support over the last 12 months.

Simon Martin
Master 2021-22


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 It is one of the Master’s greatest privileges to be invited attend the Chamberlain’s Court to witness the Freedom of London ceremony for members of the Company. It is a solemn but uplifting occasion, and is required for any Freeman to achieve promotion to Liveryman of the Company.

Earlier this month I accompanied Freeman Wayne Sheppard and his wife Carole to one such ceremony. Wayne read the oath with panache, coping well with the archaic language, and we enjoyed a fascinating tour of the Chamberlain’s Court. Afterwards we had lunch with friends and family at Sweetings, the traditional fish restaurant. We were very well served, and it was a delightful day. It felt very special to be able to enjoy this occasion together.

In days gone by, the Freedom allowed the holder free passage in and out of the City, manifest by the ability to drive sheep over London Bridge. This custom is maintained today by the Woolmens’ Company, who arrange the sheep drive once a year in October. As a special dispensation, if necessary, a Freeman would be hanged with a silk rather than hemp rope. Equally important, Freedom also allowed the bearer of the vellum certificate to be escorted home by the police if found intoxicated in the City, rather than being thrown into jail. It may not be so effective today, but Freedom of The City of London is still a great honour.

Summer Holidays

August is always a quiet month in the City with no Livery events planned. The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs take a well-earned holiday and the Masters, Wardens and Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers should do likewise, before the usually busy month of September with the final events of the Master’s year and the preparation for the installation of the new Master in early October.

August is also the month when the Army Cadet units go on summer camp and it is customary for representatives from organisations which have links with the cadets to be invited to spend a day with the cadets, observing their activities.

The Company and the Corps of Royal Engineers (“RE”) have had a relationship for many years and a formal affiliation since 2000. The RE affiliation with the Company is only one of three with Livery Companies, the Masons and the Engineers being the other two. In 2008, the Lord Mayor asked the Livery Companies to adopt and support youth organisations. The Company adopted the RE Cadets in the Greater London region, thereby further strengthening the relationship and ties between the Company and RE. At the Craft Awards Lunch held in March each year, we give prizes to the best cadet and adult instructor from the RE Cadets in the Greater London region.

I was invited to join a party of guests, including Masters or other senior representatives of eight other Livery Companies, visiting the Middlesex and NW London Army Cadets at their summer camp on Salisbury Plain on Tuesday 23 August.

We were greeted by the Colonel Commandant who gave an overview of the Army Cadet Force and the Middlesex and NW London sector which is based in White City but covers an area from Fulham and Hammersmith in the west to Barnet and Tottenham in the north. The Army Cadet Force offers opportunities to young people aged 12 to 18 years, of all abilities and backgrounds physically and mentally, improving self-confidence, teamwork, friendship, leadership and community spirit through a wide range of military themed activities as well as recognised vocational qualifications such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and BTEC Diplomas. The ACF motto is “To inspire to achieve”.

2022 Masters Blog Aug 2022 1Cadets on exercise, Salisbury Plain

There are currently about 450 cadets in the Middlesex and NW London sector, with 284 on the summer camp. Numbers fell during lockdown but are now picking up again. This was the first camp since 2019 and, for many cadets, a first experience of an extended period away from home. I was able to speak to many of the cadets and was impressed by their enthusiasm, interest and genuine engagement with the wide range of activities that are offered. The cadets are lead and instructed by ACF officers, adult volunteers (some of whom have come through the cadets) and soldiers from the regular Army (in this case the Irish Guards).

2022 Masters Blog Aug 2022 2Briefing for a night attack

We were able to observe range shooting, fieldcraft, a briefing for a night exercise and a simulated medical evacuation. We were given lunch “in the field” and were also allowed to have a go on the paint ball range, shooting at fixed targets, and with no one shooting back!

2022 Masters Blog Aug 2022 3The Master preparing for the next Court meeting

The Army Cadet Force is not part of the recruiting process for the Armed Forces but the ACF will provide assistance to any cadet who expresses an interest in joining the Armed Forces later in life. All in all, an enjoyable and uplifting day out.