December 2018 once again saw the occasion of the Annual Carol Service at St Margaret Lothbury. As in previous years the Service was very well attended by Members of the Company, their families and guests. The Stewards even had to place several chairs in the aisles as more people arrived.

With the Lothbury Singers in excellent voice, the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers’ Annual Carol Service began, led this year by the Honorary Chaplain to the Company, The Reverend John Cook and with the kind permission of the Rector, The Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley.

St Margaret Lothbury is always a warm and welcoming place and this year was no exception.

As the Master and Wardens took their places The Lothbury Singers, led by Honorary Freeman and Director of Music Richard Townend, sang the Processional Carol.  The Clerk, John Brooks read the First Lesson, Christ’s birth and kingdom are told by Isiah.  Other members of the Company read Lessons as the Service progressed and the congregation enjoyed the choice of Christmas carols.  

The Prayers, the Address and Blessing were delivered by The Reverend John Cook.

Following a moving solo from a member of the Lothbury Singers of Stille Nacht,the final carol Hark! The herald-angels sing, brought the Service to an end.

In previous years, following the Annual Carol Service, many members and their guests had taken the short walk in the City to join the Master and Wardens for a pre-Christmas drink at the University Club.  However, this year it was to be a new venue as the University Club moved premises earlier in the year and so was no longer available.

Taking a short walk, on what was a cold but dry evening, we made our way to Guildhall Square and the Guildhall Club.  We were made very welcome and refreshments were available before a hot buffet meal was served.  Once everyone had warmed up, it was time for the presentation.

The Master, Mrs Lesley Day on behalf of the Company and Wardens welcomed everyone to the Guildhall Club and to the presentation of a portrait of Clerk Robert Browne on long-term loan to the Guildhall Club.  Robert Browne was Clerk of the Company from 1766 to 1791, a period of unusual affluence for the Company, which provided two Lords Mayor.  His portrait was painted in 1779 by Mason Chamberlin RA and is an indication of the high esteem in which Robert Browne must have been held by the Company.  In the same year it was exhibited at the Royal Academy.   The artist Mason Chamberlin RA was known for his compelling portraits of leading 18thcentury figures including American founding father Benjamin Franklin.  In 1780 an engraving of the portrait was made by the distinguished engraver Edward Fisher.  

In her presentation the Master thanked Liveryman and Steward Dr David Allen and Past Master Roger Westbrook CMG who have masterminded the restoration of the portrait. It has been in the possession of the Company since it was painted and would have hung in the Company’s hall, which was just off Leadenhall Street but which no longer exists.  Prior to its restoration the portrait was stored at the offices of Montgomery in Central London.

Guests received a commemorative brochure designed by Stoyan Dimitrov containing more details of Clerk Robert Browne, artist Mason Chamberlin RA and the restoration by fine art restorer Simon Folkes.   

Mr Chris Hayward accepted the long-term loan of the portrait on behalf of the Guildhall Club and, in thanking the Master and the Company, said it would remain in the Dining Room for all to see.