The Installation of the new Master on 4th October was, as has been customary in recent years, held in St Margaret Lothbury (the church to which we have been attached for more than fifty years) in front of a full congregation, rather than being conducted in the semi-privacy of the Courtroom of a Livery Hall as had previously been the norm. What was not customary this time was that we were installing a lady Master for the first time in at least 602 years – quite an event for the Tylers & Bricklayers, who had eagerly anticipated this installation since Lesley Day had been elected as Renter Warden two years ago. The ceremony was conducted in an atmosphere of warm support for the new Master and for Michel Saminaden (the new Upper Warden) and Simon Martin (the new Renter Warden). 

The service that followed the Installation was conducted by our Chaplain, The Revd John Cook, with fine contributions from Freeman Richard Townend (the organist) and the Lothbury Singers. The preacher was The Revd Jeremy Crossley, the Vicar of St Margaret Lothbury, who emphasised that it was a red-letter day for the Company. He knew she would add lustre to the Company during her year in office and he also knew that she had been chosen because she was the best person the company had to serve as Master. He referred to the choice of the lesson, an extract from St Paul’s letter to the Christian community at Corinth, which spoke of faith, hope and charity but underlined the pre-eminent importance of charity. City Livery companies -and the Tylers & Bricklayers were no exception - had a great and important tradition of charity at the heart of their very existence.

Afterwards the new office-bearers and the congregation took the 5-minute walk through the centre of the City to Carpenters’ Hall where, again in keeping with tradition, the Installation luncheon was held. Under the capable and knowledgeable oversight of our Learned Clerk, and with important input from our Wine Committee, the company of around 130 enjoyed an excellent and well-served meal in the airy surroundings of the Hall. The toasts to The Queen, the Royal Family, and The Lord Mayor & City Corporation having been honoured, it fell to Court Assistant Alex McLean Bather to propose a toast to our guests which he did with elegant despatch. In reply, we were delighted to hear from Chris Moore, the chief executive of the Clink Charity which had been selected the previous year as the first charity supported by the Livery as a whole rather than simply as the recipient of a donation from our charitable funds. It was founded some years ago to provide training in catering and hospitality for prisoners approaching release and some members of the Company had visited the Clink’s Restaurant at HMP Brixton for a meal entirely prepared and served by inmates. Mr Moore spoke eloquently and persuasively about the success of the work which had directly resulted in a much lower re-offending rate than among other categories of prisoner. The Master thanked and congratulated him on his enthusiastic hard work and presented him with a cheque for £5,000, representing direct donations from the members of the Livery topped up with a donation from the Charitable Trusts. Liveryman Diana Malzer proposed the toast to the Livery and the new Master responded with admirable wit and brevity.

A red-letter day indeed in the Company’s history.

Colin Menzies