The installation of the new Master each October is rightfully regarded as one of the highlights of the Company’s year: not only does it mark the transition from late summer to early autumn but also it bears witness to the continuity of the Company’s work and its sense of tradition within our contemporary society.
Ten years ago, we began the practice of installing the Officers in the church immediately before the service itself: previously the installation had been held in the Court Room in rather secret circumstances whereas now it is done in front of the congregation and can thus include the family of the new Master and office-bearers. The new office-bearers were John Schofield (Master); Christopher Causer (Upper Warden); and Jenny Rolls (Renter Warden). As around 100 Liverymen, Freemen and guests witnessed the installation, there was an almost tangible feeling of support for the new officers which could not have been manifested under the previous arrangements.
Professor John Schofield is installed as Master by the Immediate Past Master Simon Martin
After a warm welcome from the Rector of St Margaret Lothbury (our good friend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley), the service was conducted by our Chaplain, the Venerable Dr Jonathan Smith, among the first public duties he has conducted since taking office. In his sermon, the Chaplain emphasised the importance of sight and regretted the generally muted recognition of the achievements of Louis Braille two centuries ago in developing a tactile script for blind people. He went on to emphasise that we go through the fourfold process of looking, seeing, discerning and understanding in so much of our daily lives, illustrating his theme in a brief but punchy address that included examples of his dry wit. The Lothbury Singers, under the direction of Richard Townend, led the congregational singing admirably as well as performing beautifully some Tudor motets.
The Chaplain, the Venerable Dr Jonathan Smith
We had to negotiate what seemed interminable sets of roadworks on our short walk to Carpenters’ Hall for an excellent lunch preceded by a glass of champagne. The new Master, John Schofield, welcomed us and paid handsome tribute to the considerable achievements of his predecessor, Simon Martin. After the meal, Past Master Michel Saminaden made the customary presentation of a gift to the Company to mark his year in office, a handover delayed by the restrictions in force at the time of his demission of office and subsequently by his own serious illness from which he has made a great recovery. He had been able to acquire loose copies of menus and other Company ephemera from the 18 th and 19 th centuries which, with assistance from Roger Westbrook and Tom Christopherson, had been beautifully leather-bound and would be of considerable interest to those wishing to know more of the atmosphere of the Tylers and Bricklayers in those times.
The return from St Margaret Lothbury led by the Acting Beadle, Ted Prior
It was appropriate that our new Master should have invited a distinguished medical man, Dr Roy Palmer, to respond to the toast to the Guests proposed by the Master. He reminded us that bricklaying was a very old craft, evidenced by the survival of Roman bricks in the City and elsewhere in England. He also pointed out that the first official photographs of the new King had been taken against the background of a brick wall (St James’s Palace) and he surmised that those bricks would last longer than most modern materials and, no doubt to His Majesty’s relief, were carbuncle-free.
Deputy Master, Michel Saminadem makes his presentation to the Company - The Master addresses the Company - Dr Roy Palmer responds on behalf of the guests
In his concluding address, the Master took up Dr Palmer’s theme by pointing out that the great masonry dome of St Paul’s was supported on unseen brick pyramids. He saw the priorities for his year in office as engaging, educating, and enabling. With these objectives, a craft bursary scheme would be developed for apprentices in our three trades, supported by mentorship from members of the Company. He was also pleased that closer links were being forged between the Company and the Royal Navy, to augment our existing relationships with the Royal Engineers and Army Cadet Force. He outlined some of the events organised for his year, including the Master’s trip to Kent with visits to Canterbury Cathedral and Sissinghurst Castle gardens, and the Charter day outing to the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, birthplace of Queen Elizabeth I. His address was greeted with enthusiasm and the diners left with the assurance that another interesting year in the Company’s long life lay ahead of them.
Liveryman Colin Menzies