Farewell to a Past Master

It was with a sense of sadness that Malcolm and I attended a memorial service for the life of Past Master John Wilson-Wright.

In the many years he spent as a Quantity Surveyor John had applied a sense of order and method to every thing he did and he was well respected in the construction industry.  John was installed as a Liveryman in 1978, joined the Court of Assistants in 1998 and became Master in 2003.  

After becoming a member of the Court Emeritus John took on the role of Honorary Secretary of the Charitable Trusts.  When John stepped down from this role I took over, and I spent a very interesting day with John learning about the work of the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Tylers and Bricklayers Charitable Trust, Craft Trust and Relief in Need Charity.


John is pictured here second from the left, with his wife Maureen.

From John’s wife Maureen I learned of the work of the Fifth Trust and a group of Tylers and Bricklayers spent a wonderful August day in Elham Valley learning about the work of this very special charity, which, I must admit had a big effect on both Malcolm and I.  Sadly, it turned out to be the last time I saw John before illness took over and he passed away.

The Tacitus Lecture

Sometimes an invitation arrives in the Master’s Inbox that gives a hint of a very interesting event that lies ahead, and so it was that an invitation from the Worshipful Company of World Traders to their Tacitus Lecture given by CEO of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.

The subject “The finance sector: redefining a broader sense of purpose” didn’t give many hints away, but the packed Guildhall listened to Mme Lagarde weave Mary Poppins’ baddy banker (if you haven’t then do watch Mary Poppins 2) into her lecture on how the Finance Sector must change its ways if it is to survive in the City of London.

If you have some time to spare, please follow this link to Mme Lagarde’s lecture.  


Guild of Bricklayers

I had been invited to talk to members of the Guild of Bricklayers at their annual conference explaining the role of the Tylers and Bricklayers Company in the 21stCentury.

Members of the Guild are, for the most part, college lecturers and I was delighted to be able to speak to the Conference to explain the role we play in supporting the crafts of wall and floor tiling, bricklaying and roofing.

In my time as a Liveryman I have always found it useful to explain (a) what a Livery Company is and (b) to give a history of the movement and the Tylers and Bricklayers, before moving on to the modern-day company and its activities.

In my talk I explained the part we play with hosting the annual Craft Awards, the Triennial Awards and how elite craftsmen in our three crafts can become a Master Craftsmen.

Celebrating the Four Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Basketmakers

2019 is the 450thanniversary of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers and the celebrations began in earnest with a trade fair in the Old Library of Guildhall.  The theme “Basketry: Weaving the Cycle of Life” was the order of the day.  The trade fair was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester.

Some 40 Basketmakers had stalls and I had a fascinating morning talking to many of the Yeoman Basketmakers about their craft, how and why they took up basketmaking and watching them at work.

Pictured here is Magog, a mythical creature, made by the Company that were presented to the Corporation and regularly take part in the Lord Mayors Show.

Craft Committee

With just a fortnight to go to the Annual Craft Awards, it was a busy meeting for the Committee where arrangements were finalised, discussion on the process of awarding Master Craftsmen status and an update on affiliated organisations.

Nominations Committee

This has to be one of the most difficult and confidential discussions that take place amongst the Master, Wardens, Past Masters and Learned Clerk as they plan for future officers of the Company.

We must consider who would be eligible to join the Court of Assistants and who could go on to take high office.

Not an easy meeting to chair!

Lunching with the Environmental Cleaners

From time to time the Clerk receives an invitation for the Master for a special reason.  Such an invitation was received from Master Environmental Cleaner, Maureen Marden, to her fellow Lady Master Tyler and Bricklayer to attend their Court Luncheon in the beautiful Armourers’ Hall on Tuesday 5 February.

When you arrive at a Livery function as a Company guest someone is delegated to meet and greet you. On this occasion the first question to me was – “Weren’t you ever frightened in Sao Paulo?” Answer “No, but then I was a child at the time!”

I was fortunate to meet fellow Masters Air Pilot and Armourer & Brasier who regaled me with a history of the beautiful Armourers’ Hall; which had survived the bombing of the City in WW2, and the paintings in the Livery Hall.    Lunch provided me with the Honorary Chaplain as a dining companion and I had not expected to discuss such a wide variety of topics over lunch!  

This lunch proved to me what a fascinating time you can have as a Livery Master.

Inaugurating the Treasures Committee

It has always struck the Clerk strange that there was a Wine Committee within the Tylers & Bricklayers, but no Committee to take care of the Treasures owned by the Company, particularly as the value of the treasures far exceed that the of wine held on bond!

The first meeting was held at the home of Past Master Roger Westbrook and reviewed the Terms of Reference and set up policies for the management of the Company’s treasures.

Meetings, Common Hall and Dinner

As with most organisations the vast majority of work and decision making involving the Company is carried out at Committee level. 

The Communications Committee have a diverse role dealing with membership matters, Company 

Events, press and publicity, and GDPR.  Membership of the Tylers and Bricklayers is strong but there is always room for growth, and equally important is that we must retain membership.

The Finance Committee reviewed the Annual Accounts and financial reports for the current Livery year. The Company is in sound health thanks to the efforts of our Learned Clerk.

After the Committee Meetings it was time for Common Hall, which gives Liverymen the opportunity to review the finances of the Company, to learn about its charitable activities and to discuss matters of common interest.  In this digital age and GDPR controlling data there was a very interesting discussions on whether we should continue with our “white book” (membership directory).

After the meeting concluded it was time for the Livery Dinner, the only event of the year limited to Liverymen, and a random seating plan which gave opportunities for all to dine with other members they may not necessarily know.  

Tylers and Bricklayers thoroughly enjoy dining at Cutlers Hall, and a “winter” style menu had been put together for the evening, along with some fine wines.  

Often it is the small touches that matter, the Staff at Cutlers Hall had put out some bricks and trowel for the occasion, whilst it may not sound terribly interesting, the Master was touched to see the effort that had been made.

Celebrating the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Chartered Architects

2019 is the thirtieth anniversary of the Grant of Livery status to the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects and the Master and Consort were invited to join Master Architect, other Masters and members of the Company to celebrate this achievement at a Livery Banquet at the beautiful Drapers Hall.

As part of the celebrations the Company had published “The Livery Halls of the City of London” in late 2018, and it had arrived for me under the Christmas Tree.  It’s a coffee table sized book with the history and photographs of the extant Livery Halls in the City.

At last night’s dinner 30 people were nominated for their special contributions to the Architects Company, and 30 who were exemplars in the practice of architecture.  Also recognised were the Founding Fathers of the Company, the Master’s Rolls of Honour for contributions to the company, and outstanding contributions to architecture.

After a delicious meal, the guest speech was given by Tony Wheeler AO. Co-founder of the Lonely Planet Guide Book company.

Planning Ahead!

One of the highlights of the year is our Craft Awards, which makes for a great deal of work for the Clerk, the Chairman of the Craft Committee and the Master.  Not only are there speeches to be written but prizes and certificates to sign and put together, and ensuring the winners and principal guests are fully briefed ahead of the Lunch. 

Whilst this week may not have too many engagements for the Master it does provide time to plan ahead for the coming months, particularly the events that the Master must arrange.

This includes a Master’s Visit to Hampshire, the Partner’s Visit to Charterhouse and the Charter Day Visit to Hampton Court Palace, and a presentation to the Guild of Bricklayers.

Dining in Melbourne

As the turn of the year tends to be a quiet time for Livery Companies, the Consort and I took a few weeks off to visit our family in Sydney, Australia.  

When we plan these visits, we try to arrange a visit to a part of the country that we had not previously visited, and so it was we found ourselves in Melbourne for a few days in January with an invitation to dine with Liveryman Brenda Upton-Kemp.  Brenda spends six months of the year in Melbourne enjoying the Aussie summer, and six months in the UK enjoying the British summer. 

Brenda is a wonderful and lavish hostess and we spent a most enjoyable evening chatting about her time as Mistress to Past Master Eric Upton-Kemp, and her life with second husband Paddy, who was well known and beloved by all in the Tylers and Bricklayers. 

This was a wonderful occasion and will stay in our memories for many years to come.

Dining with the Beadles

David Wylie has been the Beadle for the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers for quite some years, and so it was that we were delighted to hear that he had been appointed Chairman of the City of London Beadles’ Guild, and a party of Tylers and Bricklayers attended his Installation Dinner at Carpenters Hall on Friday, 25thJanuary.

Cook and Butler provided an excellent meal and after the meal had ended the ceremony of the Loving Cup took place.  David’s two granddaughters looked most bemused by the Ceremony and were helped through it by Past Master Cook!

In his speech David admitted it was very strange sitting at the head of the table, instead of standing behind the principal host, and was most welcoming to all who attended the event. Past Master Tyler and Bricklayer Roger Westbrook responded to the Toast to the Guests with his usual aplomb regaling guests with stories from his diplomatic days comparing his life as Assistant to an Ambassador to a Beadle.  

Principal Guest, Alderman Tim Hailes proposed the toast to the Guild and thanked them for all their work in the City.