Once again the Company had its annual Carol Service at St. Margaret Lothbury with the kind permission of the Rector, The Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley, who we are pleased to say attended the service and gave us a warm and amusing welcome.

It is perhaps worth remembering that St. Margaret Lothbury is a very fine City church, built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1686 – 1690 following the Great Fire of London. The church today incorporates the parishes of seven other churches lost since the Great Fire and the end of WW2. Thankfully it is one of the few City churches to escape damage in WW2. It is easily overlooked, tucked away as it is behind the Bank of England, but its interior contains an exceptional collection of original 17 th . century furnishings. Probably the most notable is the magnificent wooden chancel screen, one of only two in the City. It is surmounted by the William and Mary’s Royal Arms which draws our attention to the wonderful reredos flanked by paintings and Moses and Aaron The Company is indeed privileged to be able to use this church for its Carol Services.

The Service was led by the Honorary Chaplain to the Company, the Reverend John Cook, with our Honorary Freeman Richard Townend as Organist and Director of Music. Once again we were fortunate to have the excellent Lothbury Singers who sang some beautiful Choir Carols and supported the congregation with the well known Christmas Carols. This year there was an accompanying soloist, Simon Sturgeon-Clegg, playing the trumpet.

During the opening prayers the Reverend John Cook paused for silence in memory of the death of Past Master Jeremy Stokes who had died on 4th December.

The six lessons were read by the Master, Clerk and other members of the Company. The Reverend John Cook gave the address focussing on the story and meaning of Christmas. As has become traditional the service finished with a superb rendering by the Lothbury Singers of Stille Nacht, followed by us all singing Charles Wesley’s Hark the Herald Angels Sing. A very joyful ending to the service.

For the second year we made our way passed Guild Hall Square to the Guild Hall Club, where having taken our seats we were provided with a very welcome hot and cold buffet, desserts and a plentiful supply of wine and non alcoholic beverages. Once again these were fully appreciated and this venue proved ideal.

It was good to see the portrait of Robert Browne, clerk to the Company from 1766 to 1791, in the same Dining Room where we had witnessed the unveiling last year, rather than hidden away in storage.

Peter Fuller, Father of the Company, gave the announcement regarding the memorial arrangements for Past Master Jeremy Stokes and then the Master wound up proceedings by thanking all involved, including our hosts at the Guildhall Club, and wishing all those present a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Dick Speller