The Garden of Remembrance in the North Churchyard at St Paul’s Cathedral was opened on November 2 when all the Livery companies turned out to place a cross in the garden. The event was organised by the British Legion and the address was given by the Dean of St Paul’s.
The Annual Distribution of Prizes for the City of London School for Boys took place that afternoon in Guildhall with Alderman and Sheriff Charles Bowman, representing the Lord Mayor, giving out the prizes. It is highly likely that Sheriff Bowman will be Lord Mayor himself in the not too distant future. Charles started his training as an architect at Bristol University Department of Architecture just before it was closed down, but after third year changed horses to become an accountant. Even so he recently designed his own home.
The prizegiving began with a procession of Sheriff and school staff to the stirring fanfares of the March from Scipio by Handel played by the Senior Brass Ensemble. Amongst the four hundred or so prizes that were given out was The Worshipful Company of Architects’ Prize for Architectural Draughtsmanship which was won by Matthew Bowmer.
A week later I was in Guildhall again for the City of London School for Girls’ prizegiving. This time Dame Fiona Woolf, ex Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, was handing them out. The school orchestra also played the March from Scipio as everyone processed into the hall, although I have to say that the girls’ brass section had more attack than the boys. The Worshipful Company of Architects’ Prize for Art was presented to Josepha Taylor Schindler.
That evening I went on to Carpenters’ Hall for the Wood Awards where I followed the Master Carpenter in saying a few words about the Awards before handing over to Tom Dykhoff, the journalist and broadcaster, who gave them out. Congratulations to all the winners – lots of splendid buildings. Niall Mclaughlin won the victor ludorum with a delightful fishing hut in Hampshire perched over water. The evening gave me a chance to discuss with the Clerk of the Carpenters’ Company the arrangements for a joint lecture we are planning on April 5 next year on the subject of the Livery Halls that were burnt down in the Great Fire.
Like the City of London, York still has active guilds. Although in 1415 there were 96 craft guilds in the city, there are now just seven – the Merchant Taylors, Merchant Adventurers, Cordwainers, Butchers, Scriveners, Freemen and The York Guild of Building. On November 12th the last of these had their 61st Annual Dinner which I attended along with the Clerk and Past Master Mervyn Miller. The dinner was held in the Marchant Taylors’ hall – built in the 15th c and tinkered with at various times, it still displays a fine roof made up of a triangular truss with a bottom tie and central post, braces and cruck-formed arch. I sat next to a family of local house builders who complained about the price of land, the competition from owner-occupiers and the shortage of skills. Dinner, as one might have expected, was roast beef and yorkshire pudding. I was interested to note that the first Master when the guild was revived in 1955 was Sir Peter Shepherd, who worked on the Abercrombie Plan, being a godson of the eponymous planner, was a President of the RIBA, partner in Shepherd, Epstein Hunter and an important figure in landscape design. I remember sitting behind Peter in RIBA Council meetings many years ago and he spent the whole time sketching birds. He was so good at it that Niklaus Pevsner commissioned him to illustrate two books on ducks and woodland birds.
The Ouse was in full spate, the car park of the Queen’s Hotel where I was staying was underwater. Luckily I had travelled by train and Brompton bicycle.
The 800th Lord Mayor’s Show on November 14 began with the river pageant – when the new incumbent, along with a couple of dozen traditional river craft, travelled from Westminster to the City via the River Thames. This re-created the traditional journey between the homes of parliament and of commerce after a break of a couple of centuries.
The Lord Mayor, Jeffrey Mountevans, then made his way to Mansion House where he watched the parade go by before getting into his golden carriage and parading to the City’s western boundary.
Upper Warden Richard Brindley, Liveryman Leif Martinez and I joined the other Modern Livery Companies to walk the three mile route. Well, they walked and I elected to ride my Brompton. Leif volunteered to carry the placard announcing that we were the Worshipful Architects. By the time the parade started the rain had set in but the crowds were out, only slightly subdued by the November downpour. We stopped for lunch at Temple and while the Lord Mayor dined in the Law Courts we enjoyed sandwiches and champagne on HQS Wellington courtesy of the Company of Master Mariners.
One of the disadvantages of taking part in the parade is that you miss seeing the rest of the floats, the bands and dignitaries, but at the end we were able backtrack to a convenient spot on Queen Victoria Street and doff our hats to Jeffrey as he returned triumphantly to Mansion House, and we went to change out of our sodden gowns.
The next weekend I found myself in a conference centre in deepest Buckinghamshire as a judge of the TeamBuild challenge for young industry professionals. Multidisciplinary teams work together to tackle the design, development, and construction process of a real site. Nine groups, made up of architects, engineers, project managers and constructors, from firms like AECOM, HTA, BAM, Hawkins Brown, BDP, Price and Myers, Max Fordham and Buro Happold developed a project for a site in Edinburgh through a series of workshops over Saturday and Sunday.
The Company sponsors a prize for the team that provides the most convincing proposal for procuring the delivery team. It was a fascinating couple of days with some very impressive teams. One aspect I found particularly interesting was the key role that the younger architects played at each stage, and how they clearly emerged as the leaders of the teams.
On November 24th Dame Fiona Woolf, past Lord Mayor and now Master of the Worshipful Company of Solicitors, gave a speech in Carpenters’ Hall gave a lecture on “Power, Reputation and Influence in the 21st Century.” I was particularly interested to see the hall is use for a lecture as we are planning a joint event with the Carpenters on April 5 when we will hear a lecture by Dr Anya Matthews on the Livery Halls that were burnt down in the Great Fire.
Dame Fiona Woolf in Carpenters’ Hall
Each year the new Lord Mayor hosts a briefing for Masters of Livery Companies. So on November 24th we all duly trooped into Mansion House where Jeffrey Mountevans introduced us to his staff, talked about his plans for the year and the charities he is supporting. His theme for the year is Innovate Here, Succeed Anywhere. His charities are JDRF, which supports research into Type 1 Diabetes, and the Sea Cadets. As the Company supports the Orpington Sea Cadets, I hope there will be some occasions during the year when they can benefit from the Lord Mayor’s interest.
This year the Company sponsored the Prize for the Best Non-Weekly Magazine at the International Building press awards at the Four Seasons Hotel. The award went to OnOffice Magazine’s editor Helen Parton and I duly presented the prize. What I hadn’t expected was to impersonate Peter Rees, the former City of London Planner. Rees had been invited to present the prizes but he forgot the date. When he didn’t arrive the organiser asked me to speak in his place. Having heard Rees speak many times I impersonated him and delivered the talk I thought he would have given – with a bit of exaggeration. I have little experience of mimicking but it seemed to go down rather well with the audience.