In August 1568 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 1 presented the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers with a Royal Charter. Over recent years the Company has celebrated the occasion with a Charter Day organised by the current Master with, hopefully, some kind of connection to Queen Elizabeth 1.

It has been my hope this year to highlight the three crafts of the Tylers and Bricklayers and following a conversation with Heritage Bricklayer Master Craftsman Emma Simpson it was decided to arrange a visit to Hampton Court Palace, one of the many homes of Queen Elizabeth during her reign.

Hampton Court Palace is known for its 241 Elizabethan style chimneys, which interestingly enough were not built in Tudor times but much later.  Some of the chimneys have not aged well and it is the role of Emma Simpson and her team of heritage bricklayers to restore them back to their former glory. Emma spends many hours at the Palace undertaking the restoration work. As a result, Emma was able to “pull a few strings” and arranged a roof top tour of the Palace led by Dan Jackson, Curator of Historic Buildings for Hampton Court Palace ably assisted by Emma.

As part of the day a 90-minute guided tour of the Palace was arranged as well as a demonstration by Emma and her team of Neal Cooper a Tyler and Bricklayers Master Craftsman Lynn Mathias and Matt Wilson one of this year’s SPAB Fellows.

Charter Day dawned with warm dry weather and 28 members and guests made their way to Hampton Court Palace. After tea, coffee and some cakes made by yours truly it was time for each group to head up onto the roof. The views from the roof were magnificent and it was wonderful to be able to get “up front and personal” with the chimneys. My camera came into its own on that part of the visit!

After lunch it was time for the tour of the Palace led by guide Sarah Slater. Even 90 minutes could not begin to scrape the surface of the history of this lovely Palace and most of us made a note to visit again.

Back to Emma’s workshop for a refreshing drink and an opportunity to see the many different shaped bricks being cut from rectangular bricks and to learn how chimneys were restored or re-built from scratch.


Lunching with the Worshipful Company of World Traders

Over the past 9 months as Master I have bumped into Master World Trader Dr Edwina Moreton very often. She was installed as Master the week after me, and since then we have become firm friends.

Malcolm and I were delighted to join Edwina at a World Traders’ Business Club at the Caledonian Club, where the guest speaker was Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments and British Patient Capital.

Also on the table was Master Fruiterer Cheryl Roux, another new friend, Master Guild of Investment Manager and Master Chartered Secretary and Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyds of London, so it is fair to say we were in some very august Company!

After an enjoyable lunch Catherine spoke to those present about the work of British Business Investments and British Patient Capital. Some of what she talked about went over my head, but I understood that her organisation provides funds to Fund Managers who are investing in new business in the UK. These businesses include innovation, fintec and medical science.

It was very interesting to learn about the activities of another Livery Company which is focussed on trading around the world.

Dining with the Marketors

On the day that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson took over the reins as Chief Lord of the Treasury we made our way to Mansion House, as guests of T&B Liveryman David and Past Master Marketor Sally Williams for the Banquet in honour of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Sadly the current Lord Mayor Peter Estlin was not able to attend, but Alderman Sir David Wootton stood in, and both Sheriffs, their consorts and Sheriff Elect Chris Hayward were in attendance.

As a result of a legacy to the Worshipful Company of Marketors a new Masters Badge had been commissioned. It was blessed by PM Sally and presented to Master Andrew Cross.   Sally also gave a most appropriate Grace, mentioning the new PM and the heatwave being endured by all.

Also joining David and Sally was their son, Joe, who lives “just across the bay” from Malcolm’s daughter Helen, so we had quite a long chat about Sydney, and his forthcoming wedding in October.

After a most convivial dinner and speeches, it was time to head home to our very warm house on one of the warmest nights of the year.

Inter-Livery Cooperation?

A number of Livery Companies who represent sectors of UK PLC cooperate on projects of common interest and the construction livery companies are no exception.

Today’s meeting of the Construction Livery Group was chaired by PM Constructor Tony Ward and hosted by the Paviours Company and was arranged to consider new initiatives for the Group and a brain storming session. As well as attendees from Livery Companies we were joined by Tom Glover from the Construction Youth Trust.

CLG has been actively engaged in a Master Craftsmen Scheme for a number of years. This awards Master Craftsmen in various trades with certificates at an annual event in March. There is little publicity about the Event and it was agreed that how to market the event to the Livery Movement and Outslde world should be considered.

Tom Glover talked about the work of the CYT and all agreed that it was a good channel for providing volunteers to help promote construction in schools in the greater London area, ensuring that the Livery Schools Link were also involved.

It will be interesting to watch the changes within the CLG under the chairmanship of Tony Ward.

Meeting up with a forthcoming guest speaker

After the CLG it was a short walk to the offices of Build UK, the lead body for the construction industry to meet Suzie Nichol the CEO and guest speaker at the last Dinner of my year as Master.

I had the pleasure of working with Suzie for a number of years and I was delighted when she accepted my invitation to speak.

If you wish to know what Suzie will talk about you will have to book your tickets for the dinner!

City of London Freeman’s School Speech Day

Thanks to a very generous donation from Noreen Dickins the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers are able to give a goodly sum to each of the City Schools for prizes each year.

On a sunny day I drove over to Ashtead to join other prize giving Masters for Speech Day. As I arrived a little early I was able to take a look at the Interhouse Cooking Competition (Master Chef eat your heart out) and an amusing dramatic Italianesque comedy piece in the Italian Garden. I just wish I had had those opportunities when I was at School!

Then, it was off to the School Hall to see the following win Tylers and Bricklayers Prizes:

Amy Stainbank
Isabel Webb
Jakob Wilton
Abigail Dopson
James Freeman
Sarah Matthews
Francesca Flynn
Ffion Haffenden
Natalya Robinson

Congratulations to all!

The influence of the Thames on the City

The City of London Corporation invited me to 'The turning tide: the City and the River' a lecture by Professor Jeremy Black, MBE, Professor of History, University of Exeter. Having always had a fascination for history I did not hesitate to accept. The lecture took place in the Old Library, one of the beautiful Pugin style rooms at Guildhall.  

I have to say this was one of the most interesting lectures I have been to during the year. Professor Black took the listeners through the weaving history of the Thames with only occasional reference to notes to read out a quotation or some statistics. 

I had not appreciated that London is one of the few capital cities in the world that was both a government capital and a trading and manufacturing as well. All because of the geographical location of the City on the Thames. 

The only loss to the City was the problem of the Unions in post-war London when their behaviour caused the London based docks to lose out to Hamburg and Rotterdam.


Off to the House of Lords 

The next morning saw some 40 Masters and Consorts head to the Palace of Westminster for a tour of the House of Lords followed by lunch arranged by Master Framework Knitter and hosted by PM Farmer Baroness Byford, and the opportunity to sit in the Lords when they were working through the Questions for the day. 

There is so much history attached to the Palace of Westminster that it sometimes difficult to take it all in. It was a pleasure to walk over the encaustic tiles made by Craven Dunnill in the Central Lobby for the restoration of the Palace, and to see the inner workings of the House of Lords. It is such an ornate area of the Palace, and worthy of the major ongoing restoration process. We were told that the restoration programme will run to 2026 with both Houses moving out of the Palace for work to continue in their areas. 

After lunch in the Cholmondley Room over looking the river, we went, in groups into the House of Lords to listen to questions on D-Day landing memorials, rural post offices, calorie labelling of food for diabetics and the criminal exploitation of children. 

Walking the City Churches 

The Worshipful Companies of Constructors and Plumbers arrange an annual walk around a number of churches in the City of London. 86 churches had been burnt down during the Great Fire and the office of Christopher Wren rebuilt some 50. Most were damaged or destroyed during WW2 and some were never rebuilt but remain as gardens. 

Our day started in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral for coffee and a bacon roll and then we made our way to St Vedast alias Foster, the roof garden at One New Change, St Mary Aldermary, St Mary Le Bow, St Lawrence Jewry, St Stephen Walbrook, St Mary Woolnoth, St Mary Abchurch, St Magnus the Martyr, St Mary at Hill and the garden of St Dunstan in the East, before finishing at All Hallows at the Tower, and a very welcome cup of tea! 

We were led by two City of London Guides who taught us a great deal about the history of the City Churches, including the Sword Rests, which I will have to look for everytime I visit a church in the city. 

After the walk finished I walked back toward London Bridge and on the way, took time to watch one of the London Barges make its stately way down the Thames and under the opened Tower Bridge.


Speech Day for St Pauls Cathedral 

It was an early start for yours truly as I had to be seated by 9 a.m. in St Pauls Cathedral for the School’s Speech Day. 

St Pauls Cathedral School is for children between 3 and 13, and the visiting Masters all admired the pre-prep children who sat quietly (well almost) for the duration of the Ceremony and speeches.  

Whilst we waited for the ceremony to begin the year 7 String Quartet played for us; I just wish I had just one ounce of their talent!  The Cathedral Choristers sang the beautiful Laudate Pueri, and their angelic voices filled the beautiful cathedral, and after the Ceremony Pre-prep pupils sang Amani Utupe and Year 8 “And so it goes” by Billy Joel. 

A legacy from Past Master John Martin allows the Company to give prizes to the school, and seven prizes were awarded to students at this Ceremony, and they are all to be congratulated.

Electing Sheriffs

Common Hall for the election of Sheriffs for the ensuing year has been taking place for hundreds of years and as I sat in Guildhall I was reminded of the history of this event.   The Sheriffs were originally appointed by the King to keep order, but times changed and it is now the Livery who elect the Sheriffs.

This year’s election was contested. Alderman Michael Mainelli, World Trader, had been nominated by the Aldermen, and for the non-Aldermanic Sheriffs Chris Haywood and Erica Starry were competing for the position. Electioneering had started many months before with claims of over 1000 supporters for Chris Haywood and over 700 for Erica Starry.

As it turned out, Alderman Mainelli was elected along with Chris Haywood, and they will now start planning their year at the Bailey.

Armed Forces Flag Week

After a rushed post-election lunch it was time to head back to Guildhall for the ceremony of the raising of the flag commemorating Armed Forces Week. Guildhall Yard was filled with representatives from the Navy, RAF and Army, and Royal British Legion with music played by the Marines Band.

Lord Mayor in locum tenens Sir Andrew Parmley took the salute and he was joined by senior members of each of the Armed Forces.

Charitable Trust

All Livery Companies will play an active role in helping others and the Tylers and Bricklayers are no exception. The Charitable Trust, chaired by PM Ian Mitchell Grimshaw, have a very difficult task of choosing which charities to support with, what is always, a limited budget. Over the course of the year the Hon. Secretary receives many requests for charitable grants and the Trustees face the task, on this occasion, of picking just five to assist. The five will receive a payment over a three year period.

The Meeting also welcomed the Almoner and Charity Steward who both play an active role in the Company.

Celebrating 400 years charter anniversary with the Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders

After the Charitable Trust meeting it was a quick dash to Temple Church to commemorate 400 years since the Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders received their Charter from King James 1.

This was my first visit to this church set up by the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages and I was struck by the simple design of the church, and the beautiful stained glass windows over the Alter, made even more beautiful by the evening sunshine.

After the evensong the guests walked to Middle Temple Hall to continue the celebrations. Again this was a first time for me and I was struck by the beauty of the interior of the hall.

The Company presented each guest with some snuff as a gift and I hope that I don’t sneeze too much when I follow the instructions on the box!