“A change was coming upon the world …. The paths trodden by the footsteps of ages were broken up; old things were passing away, and the faith and the life of ten centuries were dissolving like a dream …. And all the forms, desires, beliefs, convictions of the old world were passing away, never to return. A new continent had risen up beyond the western sea. The floor of heaven, inlaid with stars, had sunk back into an infinite abyss of immeasurable space; and the firm earth itself, unfixed from its foundations was seen to be a small atom in the awful vastness of the universe. In the fabric of habit in which they had so laboriously built for themselves, mankind were to remain no longer. And now it is all gone – like an unsubstantial pageant faded; and between us and the old English there lies a gulf of mystery …. they cannot come to us, and our imagination can but feebly penetrate to them.”
The Tilers however busied themselves with more mundane matters, appearing anxious to make up for lost time. On the 14th December 1473 they came before the Court of Aldermen to obtain confirmation of additional Ordinances enabling them to appoint three wardens in place of two to search for defective tiles, and they were back again on 14th March 1480/1 to have more Ordinances approved for regulating tile searches and also the relationship of the members of the Company with each other.
The Tilers had also acquired what was presumably their first Hall. Whether this was before or after 1468 is not known. Certainly the Company does not appear in the well known list of Companies owning halls, prepared by the Brewers Company in 1422, but the records of the Leathersellers Company showed that they used the halls of other Companies including that of the Tilers before they built their own first hall in 1476 under London Wall in the Parish of All Hallowes, and they used Tilers Hall in 1473 and possibly earlier. The site of this hall is known. First there is among the Harleian MSS a “List of Publicke Halls in London in 1483”, which contain references to 24 Company Halls, including those of all the great Twelve Companies except the Ironmongers, and among the 13 minor Companies shown as having halls only the Carpenters and Tilers appear among the building crafts gilds, both of which are described as “in the Paryssh of all Hallowyn in London Wall”. Secondly there is among the records of the London Court of Husting details of a sale in 1555 by John Small, grocer, and his wife of “one great capitall messuage or tenement called the tylershall” in the parish of All Saints London Wall, and from which it is clear that the wall was in what is now Wormwood Street, one house back from the end of Broad Street. This site is identifiable on the map known as the “Agas” map, published c1570, which has been reproduced in the “A to Z of Elizabethan London” published by the London Topographical Society in 1979. This hall cannot have been owned by the Company as such, since it was not incorporated until 1568, but would have been owned by Trustees for the Company. As we shall see, the Company’s second hall must have been acquired shortly before 1555, so that unless John Small and his wife were such Trustees, or the personal representatives of a trustee, the first hall would have ceased to be occupied by the Company some time before the 1555 sale.
However, we must now go back to 1477 in which year the Statute 17 Edward IV Cap 4 reached the Statute book, or rather the handwritten parchment Parliament Role. It may never now be possible for us to know just how “Our Lord of the Kind, for the general profit of his realm by the Advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and at the request of the Commons in Parliament assembled” came to concern themselves with the finer points of tile making, nor how what then passed for Parliamentary draftsmen acquainted themselves with the technical terminology of the Tilers craft. It seems probable however that although the scope of the Statute was not confined to London, there must have been some connection with the events of the 1461 and 1467/8 and the dialogue between the Court of Aldermen and the Tilers of London. The evil which the Statute addressed is explained in the preamble as follows:
“Whereas in divers Parts of this realm great damage hath been and daily is, and by
likelihood in time to come will much increase, for Default of true, seasonable, and
sufficient making, whiting and anealing of Tile, called Plain Tile, otherwise called Thak-
tile, Roof-tile, or Crest-tile, Corner-tile, and Gutter-tile, made and to be made within this
The remedy prescribed is set out in the following terms:
“That all and every Person or Persons which hereafter shall use the Occupation of making any such tile as before is said, shall make it good, seasonable, able and sufficient, and well whiter and annealed; And that the earth whereof any such Tile shall be made, shall be digged and cast up before the first day of November next before that they shall be made, and that the same Earth by stirred and turned before the first day of February then next following the same digging and casting up , and not wrought before the first day of March next following; And that the same earth before it be put to making of Tile, be truly wrought and tried from stones; and also that the Veins called Malm or Marle, and Chalke, lying commonly in the ground near the Land to make Tile of, after the digging of the said Earth whereof any such Tile shall be made, shall be well, lawfully and truly severed and cast from the said Earth whereof any such Tile shall be made.”
There then follow provisions for prescribing the dimensions of various types of roof tile, for imposing and collecting penalties for selling defective tiles through the courts, and for the recovery of legal costs, for Justices of the Peace to have jurisdiction over such matters with power to impose fines, for appointing persons ”having the best experience and knowledge in the occupation of making of tile”, as “searchers” to present offenders to the Justices , and finally for the Justices to enquire into the defaults of the Searchers. All in all it seems a very comprehensive set of regulations.
A number of points are worth considering with regard to the Statute. First, although no
doubt there must have been facilities for those conscious of the fact that they were deemed
to know the law, to have handwritten copies of Statutes taken from the handwritten
Parliamentary roll, one stands in some awe of the difficulties involved in enforcement.
However, one aspect of the coming changes referred to above was about to take effect,
because in this very year 1477 Caxton set up, within a few hundred yards of the building
in which Lords and Commoners assembled, the first printing press in England, and
within a few years the first unofficial printed collections of Statutes would appear - there
would only be unofficial ones for another 300 years. Secondly it is not clear to what extent
the Statute was effectively enforced , although it remained technically in force until
repealed in 1856. Thirdly the Company had no specific role to play under the Statute
although its members could of course be appointed as searchers in London. Fourthly the
Company would continue to have a parallel jurisdiction under its own ordinances within
the City of London and its suburbs. Lastly the Statute did not apply to bricks, although
the Company’s own ordinances would give it power in relation to their manufacture, and
when a statute was finally enacted to apply the 1477 Statute to bricks that would not be
until 1724, and it would not only confer statutory powers on the Company so far as
London was concerned but would also serve speedily to bring the final failure of the
Company’s attempts to control its own craft.
In 1516 the Company was back again before the Court of Aldermen having new Ordinances approved. These were the first such ordinances made after the passing of the Statute 19 Henry VII Cap 7 1503/4 which required the ordinances of companies to be approved not only by the appropriate local authority, in London the Court of Aldermen, but also by the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Treasurer, and the Chief Justices of the three Courts, or any three of them, which approval was exemplified by an engrossment on parchment , sealed by the three signatories. This would happen twice more in 1571 and in 1723 but only in the last case has the sealed and engrossed copy remained in the Company’s possession.
Official lists of Livery Companies, as they were now coming to be called, abound at this time, usually prepared for specific purposes. In 1501 a list contains the mane of 47 Companies with the following companies inter alia appearing in the following order, Carpenters 21, Tilers 30, Joiners 37 and Masons 41. In 1509 another list indicates the order in which the companies are to line the route taken by Henry VIII from the Tower to his coronation in Westminster Abbey, with the Carpenters at 21, the Tilers at 31, the Joiners at 38 and the Masons at 42. The only such list expressly prepared to establish the order of precedence is one of 1515 / 1517 which includes the Carpenters at 25, the Masons at 31, the Tilers at 38 and the Joiners at 42 which is almost the order as today when the numbers are 26, 30, 37 and 40 respectively.
As we have already noted the Company had acquired its first hall soon after 1468 at the
latest and this had been disposed of by 1555. The circumstances surrounding the
acquisition of the second hall while not entirely unknown as in the case of the first hall,
are still somewhat obscure. The hall site formed part of the lands of the Priory of the Holy
Trinity, which had no connection with the Fraternity of that name to which Thomas White
had belonged, and to which we shall refer again. The Augustinian Priory had been
founded by Matilda the wife of Henry I in 1108 in the triangle now formed by Dukes
Place, Creechurch Lane, Leadenhall Street and Aldgate. Then and later more land was
added by way of endowment, until the Priory became one of the largest landowners in
Medieval London, perhaps the largest except for the Crown. By 1532 the Priory had got
itself into debt and Henry VIII accepted a surrender of all its assets thus acquiring one of
the largest monastic properties in the country in what looks like a trial run for the
Dissolution of the Monasteries. Almost at once Henry gave the Priory and its lands to his
Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, who lived on the Priory site until he died in 1544
when the property passed to his daughter and thence to her husband the Duke of Norfolk
from whom the name Duke’s Place is derived. Before his death Audley disposed of certain
parts of the estate surplus to his requirements, and in 1538 entered into a contract for sale
of the Hall site to Thomas Addleston, a carpenter. It may be that the latter was effectively
a trustee for the Company, and in 1542 the site appears to have been transferred by
Elizabeth Dyall, citizen and Tyler to certain members of the Company, who, or the
survivors of whom, transferred it to the Company in 1582 after its incorporation. It is
interesting to note that a tavern called the Cock and Hoop appears to have existed on the
site before the Priory parted with it, and a tavern called the Cock remained on the site
until the 19th century, on the Leadenhall Street frontage.
John Stow in his “Survey of London” published in 1598 describes the part of Leadenhall Street between Aldgate Pump and Lime Street, then called Aldgate Street, thus “in the midway on the south side is Hartshorn Alley, a way that goeth through into Fenchurch Street over against Northumberland House. Then have ye Bricklayers Hall, and another alley called Sprinckle Alley, now called Sugarloafe Alley of the like sign”. The Hall lay back from Aldgate Street behind the Cock Tavern which the Company owned, and had two entrances, one cut through the Cock and the other from Sugarloafe Alley – now Fenchurch Buildings. The appearance of the Cock Tavern and the entrance to the Hall from Leadenhall Street had probably changed little when they were shown in a print published in the European Magazine in 1811 which is reproduced in the frontispiece of W. G. Bell’s History. Incidentally, there was an earlier print of better quality which shows not only the Cock but also the other two houses forming the Company’s frontage to Leadenhall Street. This appears in W. G. Bell’s book “The Great Fire of London” but the fact appears not to have been remarked upon by anyone, least of all by W. G. Bell. If a Tyler and Bricklayer of 1598 were to return now to the site of the Hall and stand where the Leadenhall Street entrance was, that is on the pavement opposite the entrance to Creechurch Lane, he would still recognise two buildings. The first would be the early 16th century tower of the Church of St Katherine Cree on the north side just east of Creechurch Lane (the remainder of the Church was rebuilt in 1630) and which survived the Great Fire. The second would be the church of St Andrew Undershaft a hundred yards or so to the west also on the north side of the Street, and this early 16th century church also survived the fire and contains the tomb of John Stow. By the end of the 16th century the buildings of the Priory and its church, which had been among the most splendid ecclesiastical buildings of London, still survived albeit in a dilapidated state. The church had been turned into a human rabbit warren in response to a late Elizabethan housing shortage, and the whole must have presented a strange sight to anyone emerging from the Hall into Aldersgate Street (as it then was) as they loomed up behind and to the East of St Katherine Cree Church.
There being no Company records extant until the end of this period, the names of very
few members of the Company are known to us. The names of members of the Company
occasionally appear in wills, and in particular in the published ”London Consistory Court
Wills” for the period 1492-1547. Among these is the will of Robert Burton ”tyler of
London” proved on 6h August 1545. This Will is of interest for several reasons. First there
are references to the Testator’s tools of his trade and his apprentices. Secondly there is a
reference to the Warden of the Company. Thirdly the Testator possessed a house in
“Bysshopsburton at the West end of the toune”. This place is almost certainly “Bishops
Burton” which is situated three miles west of Beverly in the East Riding of Yorkshire on
the A1079 which runs through it from east to west. This district was notable for the
manufacture and use of bricks at this time and in the middle ages, and it seems likely that
the Testator came from there, learned his craft there and indeed took his name from the
“toune”. Finally, there is a bequest to the “Fraternitie of the Trinity” and this, coupled
with the fact that he wished to be buried in the churchyard of “Saynt Butulph” makes it
probable that the reference is to the Fraternity of the Holy Trinity in the parish of St
Botolph without Aldersgate (there were three churches dedicated to that saint in the city)
which is the same fraternity to which Thomas White, master in 1415-16, belonged. It may
be that there was some connection between the Fraternity and the Company. The Will reads as follows:
”I Robert Burton, tyler of London, beynge syke of boddy, bequeve my sole into the handes of Almyghtie Gode, to Our Lady Saynt Marie ande to all the company of heven, and my body to be buried in the churcherd of Saynt Butulph, in the Aley where the procession enthrethe. I bequeve unto Elsabethe Hilley, my coson, my howse that is standynge in Bysshops-burton, in the weste ende of the towne, and also the rent that is behynnd for 4 yeres. I bequeve to the wardens of my company for theire paynes commynge to my burying 10s. I bequeve to the Fraternite of the Trinityt 20d. I bequeve to my prentesys, theare yeres beynge expired, all my toolis that pertaynethe unto my occupation to be eqall devyded by the discrescion of my wyff and my overseer. All the reasedue of my goodes, I beynge honestly buried, I bequeve to Alis, my wiff, and makinge her full executrix. Ande I make my overseer of this my will Williams … and for his paynstakyn I doo gyve unto hum my second best gowene.”
The process of consolidation during this period was only gradual, no doubt because, although the use of tiles within the area of the City and its suburbs was more or less the rule by this time, the use of bricks while increasing was still comparatively rare. The variety of brick buildings is illustrated by Sutton House in Hackney, built of brick in 1535 and which with later alterations still survives in the care of the National Trust and is the oldest house in London’s East End. When this house was sold in 1550 it was described as “now called the Bryke Place”. The author of a recent article on the house, Anthony Woodward, remarks that this shows just how conspicuous was a house built of bricks among the mud and wattle buildings of Hackney in the mid 16th century.
However slow the process of consolidations may have been, in three successive years – 1568, 1569 and 1570 – the Company took three steps which showed a determination to play a greater role among the building craft Livery Companies. First, in 1568 it obtained its first Charter, which like all charters of this date was one of incorporation. The time was clearly ripe for this outburst of activity, for while the celebration of centenaries may not have been a Tudor habit, the fact that it was just one hundred years after the final restoration of the Company’s franchises in 1468 is surely no coincidence.
There were subsequent charters, but these were of no importance, that of 1605 because it
was merely an inspeximus Charter to confirm that of 1568, following the accession of
James I, that of 1685 because it was subsequently annulled, and that of 1938 because it did
no more than increase the limit to the value of land which could be held without licence in
Mortemain which now serves no purpose since the law of Mortemaine has now been
abolished. That of 1568 is therefore of unique importance because it remains the
Company’s only acting charter and therefore together with the Ordinances of 1570 the
Foundation on which the Company’s constitution is based. The following précis of the
Charter is taken from the translation from the original Latin made by Dr A.H. Thomas,
Deputy Keeper of the City Records in 1938, and apart from the omission of nearly half of
the words as tautologous, and the division of the remainder into numbered paragraphs,
no alterations have been made:
“Elizabeth by the Grace of God Queen of England France and Ireland Defender of the Faithe etc To all to whom these present letters shall come greeting KNOW ye that we of our special grace have granted to our beloved lieges Thomas Spencer, John Cawver, Thomas Bradley, Walter Cowper, William Swainson, Senior, Henry Mallorye, James Lysbye, John Tull, Roger Gathorne, Henry Davison and all the other free men of the mistery of art of the Tilers and Bricklayers of our city of London and the suburbs of the same,
1 That they shall be one perpetual corporate society of one master and two keepers or wardens and the Society of free man of the same mistery or art of Tilers and Bricklayers of London.
2 And we appoint Thomas Spencer as first and new master and John Cawver and Thomas Bradley as First and new keepers or Wardens of the same society
3 And that tey and their successors shall be called by the name of “the Master and Keepers or Wardens and Society of the freemen of the mistery of art of the Tilers and Bricklayers of London.
4 And that they may have a common seal.
5 And that they every year on the day of St Laurence the martyr may choose and make from themselves one master and two keepers or wardens to oversee, rule and govern the mistery of art and society.
6 And that such society shall be able and capable in law to acquire in fee and perpetuity lands to the value of fifty pounds per annum and to hold the same in aid of the support of poor men and women, brothers and sisters of the society and mistery and art aforesaid for ever the statute concerning not puttings lands to mortmain or any other statute notwithstanding.
7 And further we have granted that the same master and keepers of wardens and society from time to time may and shall be able lawfully and with aforesaid, who for the time being shall be or of any other of the more honest and more sufficient men of the mistery of art aforesaid whom the same master shall depute to this in his place from time to time, And that they may be able to correct and amend defaults in the same mistery or art if any be found, according to their sane discretions as for the greater utility of the commonality of our people may seem more apt and convenient to do Commanding all sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, constables and other our officers, ministers and subjects whatsoever that to the same master keepers or wardens and society aforesaid they shall be aiding , assisting and comforting in all things.
In Witness whereof we have cause these letters patent to be made, Witness myself the third day of August in the tenth year of our reign (1568)
By writ of privy seal and of the date aforesaid by Authority of Parliament,
Lutley (Lord Chancellor)
The Charter is strikingly short on detail both as to the manner in which the Company will manage its relationship with its own members and as to the manner in which it will exercise control over the craft. Clearly however it is intended that the detail will be filled in by the ordinances to be made under paragraph 7 and which will of course have to have the Statutory approval which has been necessary ever since the Statute of 1504 (19 Henry VII C.7). The Ordinances also require the approval of the Court of Aldermen as indeed does the Charter itself under a Statute of 1437 (15 Henry VI C.6). The Charter makes no mention of a Court of Assistants, although one has almost certainly existed for many years, and the Grant of Arms in 1569 and the new Ordinances of 1570 both refer to it. The most interesting provision in the Charter perhaps is the extent of the control of the craft over an area covering a radius of 15 miles from the city boundaries. It would seem that the company assumed the obligation to exercise control over the numberous aspects of the craft referred to in the Ordinances over far too large an area, and so it proved increasengly to be the case over the next 150 years. How this radius came to be chosen is not clear, but it is much greater than that selected for most livery companies. Some 78 companies appear to have areas of control defined for them, 24 were restricted to the City boundaries, and of the remaining 54, 43 had a radius of between 2 and 10 miles in addition, exceeded only by the Tylers and Bricklayers with 15, the Fanmakers with 20 and the Gold and silver Wyre Drawers with 30. Among the companies in the building crafts the Carpenters had 2 miles in 1607, increased to 4 mile in 1640, the masons 7 miles, the joiners 2 miles and the Plasterers 2 miles in 1597 increased to 3 miles in 1677. Finally it will be noted that the Company has now adopted the title of “Tilers and Bricklayers”.
Six months after the grant of the Charter the Tilers received their grant of Arms. The original is lost and no copy exists, but the contemporary records of the College of Arms summarise its contents thus:
“Asure a cheveron Or in Chief a Fleur-de-lys Argent between ii brickaxes and a Brushe gold & their creaste upon a healme on a atorce gold and azure an Arme couppy party pale or & gules houldinge in his hand proper a brickax gold mantled gueles doubled argent as more playnely appereth depicted in this margent which Armes and Crest To Roger Gathorne Master and Simon Credance & Thomas Shornebrok Wardens of the corporacon and mistery of the commonalty of Tilers and Bricklayers & to their successors by the name of Master Wardens or assistants & companye of the sayd corporacon to have and to hold use beare enjoy and shew forth in shydes standers banner or banneroles &c In Witness whereof we the sayd Garter Clarencieulx & Norroy Kinges of Armes & by there pntes &c dated the iii February 1569 regni regine Elizabeth xii”.
This might be summarised in modern layman’s terms thus:
“A gold chevron on a blue shield with a silver fleur de lys flanked by two gold brickaxes in
the upper half and a gold ‘brush’ in the lower part. The crest on a gold and blue wreath is a
right arm with a sleeve coloured half gold and half red the hand holding a gold brickaxe.
The mantle is silver and red.”
the Carpenters, Masons, Plasterers and Joiners as well as our own. The Brickaxe is a bricklayer’s tool which continued in use until the 19th century. The ‘Brush’ is not quite so clear in its significance, but it is a heraldic device which has been used to represent literally a brush or sometimes a bundle of laths or faggots: here it must surely represent a bundle of laths to represent the roof tilers craft.
There remains the one device in the Company’s Arms which is unlikely to have been used without a definite significance, but the significance of which in this case is not obvious. Because it may point to the Company originated as a religious fraternity or having had an association with such a fraternity, that question has been postponed until now so that both problems could be dealt with together.
As long ago as 1960 John Bromley, the Deputy Librarian at the Guildhall Library, in his book “The Armorial Bearings of the Guilds of London” suggested that the fleur-de-lys in the Company’s arms might point to the Company’s early existence as a fraternity with vows to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nothing further having come to light in the thirty five years or so that have passed since then it seems time to try and examine Bromley’s suggestion further, and for lack of any other available evidence, to do so by considering the problem posed by the Company’s Armorial Bearings in relation to those of the other Livery Companies.
The science of heraldry having been invented in the 13th century, as a means of enabling knights to identify each other on the battlefield, by selecting and arranging devices called “Charges” on shields and as crests on helmets, its extension to unincorporated and incorporated might seem unlikely, but it happened nevertheless. Some guilds that later became Liver Companies adopted unauthorised armorial bearings and continued to use them without a formal grant from the College of Arms, and the senior Livery Company of all, the Mercers, did not until 1929 obtain a grant for the arms they had used for several hundred years. However, the first known grant to a Livery Company was to the Drapers in 1438, and there were 25 more before 1500 and another eleven before 1569, making that to the Tylers and Bricklayers in that year probably the thirty seventh, the correspondence to the Company’s number ihn the order of precedence being no more than a coincidence.
The respective dates of grants of arms of the other Building Craft Companies are as follows:
the Carpenters (11th) 1461. the Masons (15th) 1472, the Painters (22nd) 1486, the Plaisterers
(1545, the Tylers and Bricklayers (37th) 1569, the Joiners 1570, the Plumbers 1588, and the
Glaziers 1929 although their Arms had been in use since the middle of the 16th century.
These dates are significant to the extent to which they fall before or after 1534, the date of
Henry VIII’s Act of Supremecy which marks the final break with Rome. Thereafter all
religious fraternities were likely to feel the burden of Royal disapproval and investigation
so that symbols of religious significance in Armorial bearings thereafter became less
obvious , and in some cases Companies obtained fresh grants of arms omitting religious
symbols appearing in earlier ones. The date 1534 is also significant in relation to the
wording of Charters of incorporation, in that before that date reference is often made to the
body being incorporated as being or having been a Religious Fraternity and thereafter this
appears seldom if ever to be the case.
Including the Tylers and Bricklayers, there are some 33 Companies that are believed to have had Religious Fraternity origins, and of these 25 Companies have or appear to have a reference to the fact in their Armorial Bearings. Of the 33 Companies 13 are believed to have been associated with Fraternities with vows to the Virgin Mary, and of these 137 have a reference to that fact in their Armorial Bearings which in 5 cases takes the form of Charges consisting of Lilies or Fleur-de Lys which are always regarded as associated with the Virgin Mary. These latter five Companies are the following:
1 – The Pewterers incorporated 1473 with a grant of arms (with Lilies) 1451.
2 – The Parish Clerks, incorporated 1441, with a grant of arms (with a fleur-de-lys) 1582.
3 – The Coopers, incorporated 1501, with a grant of arms (with Lilies) 1509.
4 – The Plaisterers, incorporated 1500, with a grant of arms (with fleur-de-lys) 1545.
5 – The Tylers and Bricklayers, incorporated 1568, with a grant of arms with a fleur-de-lys 1569.
Of these five Companies only the Tylers and Bricklayers is incorporated after the crucial date of 1543 and their charter is the only one which makes no reference to a fraternity with vows to the Virgin Mary.
Next we must consider the case of the Joiners Company. This is a Company well known
to have originated in a Fraternity with vows to St James of Compostela and which to this
day attends services in the church of St James Garlickhithe dedicated to that saint. The
Company’s Charter of incorporation granted in 1570 as one would have come to expect,
makes no reference to the Fraternity connection. However, when one looks at the
Companies Arms, granted in 1570 by Robert Cooke Clarenceux King of Arms one sees at
once that the design is very similar to that of the Tylers and Bricklayers and that where the
fleur-de-lys appears in the Tylers and Bricklayers Arms there appears in the Joiners’ Arms
an “escalop”, or scallop shell, the emblem of St James of Compostela. It remains only to
add that not only are the Tylers and Bricklayers armorial bearings remarkably similar in
design to those of the Joiners’, but they too were granted by Robert Cook Clarenceux King
of Arms, albeit for some reason by the other two Kings of Arms as well. Clearly, neither
Company at that tine would consider it wise to ask a Tudor Monarch to grant a Charter
referring to a Religious Fraternity with vows to Saints, but they would by the 1560s feel it
safe to ask the same Tudor Monarch acting through the College of Arms to grant them
Armorial Bearings which included discreet reference to those Saints.
There for the present the case must rest, but to the writer at least it appears that John Bromley’s tentative solution to the problem of the fleur-de-lys is on examination found to be ”beyond reasonable doubt” to have been correct. One postscript to the fleur-de-lys question is perhaps worth mentioning. There exists a book by an anonymous author published c.1825 entitled “The Coats of Arms of the Newcastle Trade Guilds”. Among the 60 odd Guilds whose Arms are illustrated is that of the Bricklayers and Plaisterers who have appropriated to themselves the Arms of corresponding Livery Companies , and so the two fleur-de-lys of the Plaisterers and the single fleur-de-lys of the Tylers and Bricklayers were presumably displayed together in Newcastle for centuries.
Finally the question must be asked, if the Tylers and Bricklayers did not themselves come into existence as an independent religious Fraternity with vows to the Virgin Mary, then with what similar Parish Fraternity would it have been associated. There were a dozen or so Parish Fraternities that were known to have existed in the city in the Middle Ages, but probably the one most likely to have been supported by the Company was that which was connected with the Church of All Hallowes London Wall and which is first mentioned in 1361. The Church was situated only about one hundred yards from the Tylers’ first Hall, and although it survived the Great Fire, it was rebuilt in the 1760s to the design of George Dance the Younger.
Finally, in 1570, the Company produced a new set of Ordinances under the new charter and on the 14th July of the following year 1571 these were approved in accordance with the Statute of 1504 by the Lord Chancellor and keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon (father of the better known Francis Bacon) – also Lord Chancellor) the Marquess of Winchester, the Lord High Treasurer and Sir Robert Catlyn the Chief Justice of the Queens Bench. These Ordinances deal with the conduct of members of the Company in relation to each other and with regard to the taking of apprentices , the maintenance of a Court of Assistants, the Election of Masters and Wardens, the appointment of a clerk and a beadle, and the periodical reading of the Ordinances to members in “their Common Hall”. With regard to the supervision of the Craft there is a list of responsibilities that are indeed daunting when it is considered that these had to be exercised throughout an area similar to that now contained with the M25 orbital route. These responsibilities included the following:
- The inspection of places where earth or clay was dug for brick of tile making, and where sand chalk “or other stone” was dug or broke for making lime for (making mortar) laying bricks or tile;
- Checking that bricks and tiles were of the standard sizes required by Statute or the Company’s Ordinances, and the “merchantability “ of paving tiles.
- Examination of carts carrying tiles, sand or lime for quality and quantity of the load;
-Discovery of work incorporating badly made bricks, tiles or lime and bad workmanship in the laying of the same and the use of “Crasyer” of “Samuel” (insufficiently burned) bricks or tiles;
- Discovery of laths “not of good sufficient and lawful heart”;
-And enforcement of the requirement that “everyone of the Company that maketh any chimneys shall cut and hew the chamfletts 2 ½ inches square and also will workmanly and cleanly joint and finish all such work”.
-Finally of course it was the duty of the Company to compel reparation for breaches of these Ordinances and impose fines and to present defaulters to the Justices of the Queens bench the fines being collected being shared as to one half for the company and one half for the “Commonwealth”.
The originals of these three documents, the Elizabethan Charter, the Grant of Arms and the Ordinances of 1570 have not been in the Company’s possession for many years and are presumably lost to the company for ever, although the circumstances and date of their loss are unknown. Bearing in mind that the Company has a fairly complete set of records from this time forward, the loss is difficult to account for, but as they are of such importance the explanation may be that they were kept in what was regarded as a safer place than the rest of the Company’s records, which was one that turned out to be not safe after all. Fortunately the City Corporation has copies of the Charted and Ordinances, and the College of Arms has, not a copy of the Grant, but a note of its contents. The Charters of 1605 (inpeximus only) and 1685 (annulled) are similarly lost, although the City Corporation has copies. The Supplementary Ordinances of 1722 and the Supplementary Charter of 1938 alone of this important series of documents alone remain in the Company’s possession.