The installation of our new Master is always a major event in the Company’s calendar: each Master brings his own style to our major occasions and brings something of his own personality to the year. Many members of the Company gathered in the lovely Wren church of St Margaret Lothbury (just behind the Bank of England) on Thursday 5th October to support the new Master and the new Office-bearers as they were sworn in and installed. It’s not particularly far back since that part of the day was conducted virtually behind closed doors and it was refreshing to see the church full so that members of the Company could show their support.
David Szymanski handed over his Master’s robes, at the end of a distinguished year in office, to the new Master, Jeff Fuller, who swore his loyalty to The Queen and promised to serve the Company to the best of his ability and to uphold its rules and traditions. Lesley Day was then robed as Upper Warden and Dr Michel Saminaden as Renter Warden. Finally, Hilary Szymanski passed the Mistress’s brooch to Catherine Fuller, adding a few words of encouragement and good wishes.
After a short pause, the annual service began, conducted by the Company’s chaplain The Revd. John Cook. The large congregation sang the hymns with gusto, ably supported from the gallery by the Lothbury Singers directed by the church’s organist Richard Townend, an Honorary Freeman of the Company. The choir also sang, most beautifully, anthems by Gibbons, Bruckner and Stainer during the service. The Chaplain’s sermon started with the words about faith, hope and love written by St Paul to the Christian congregation at Corinth, read by the Master earlier in the service. He developed the theme of the type of love known in Greek as agape – the love of God for man, and the love of man for God, specifically through Christ, and the extension of the word to mean love for one’s fellows. The congregation ended the service by affirming its loyalty to The Queen in the singing of the National Anthem.
From there it was a short walk, in what had suddenly turned into a sunny day, to Carpenters’ Hall for the celebratory luncheon. Having not had its own hall for well over a century, the Tylers & Bricklayers have come to regard the large post-war Carpenters’ Hall as their alternative home and for many years the installation and service have been followed by lunch here. Almost 140 Liverymen, Freemen, and guests sat down to enjoy a particularly fine meal accompanied by excellent wines chosen by our Wine Committee. It was a great privilege that the Lord Mayor had accepted the new Master’s invitation to speak at his installation luncheon and we were delighted to see him and the Lady Mayoress, and Sheriff Neil Redcliffe, at the Top Table. During his year of office (which would come to an end only a few days after the lunch), Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley has gained a reputation for brief and wholly relevant speeches, delivered with a delightful sense of humour. He did not disappoint on this occasion, not only congratulating the new Master and Office-bearers but showing his appreciation of the Company’s continued support of apprenticeships and awards for excellence in its three related trades, all achieved with wit and brevity. In response to the Junior Liveryman’s proposal of the Toast to the Company, the Master briefly outlined a few of the delights in store for the Company over the next year.
An occasion that could easily have been formal and dry was, on the contrary, enjoyable and inspiring, with a strong sense of community and companionship.