Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas - 2012

A very happy Christmas and optimism for the New Year

The Clerk

Ian Head

Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects
164 Stockbridge Road
Hants SO22 6RW

Tel 01962 869158

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mewsletter - 1

Hi, I’m ROWSE and I moved in with Mervyn last year, and have been trying to sort him out ever since … it was a long time since a CAT was in charge … he’s still got a lot to learn!

H.J.Rowse - Engineer

I’ve come all the way from Liverpool. My first folks weren’t nice to me and dumped me in a big hole under the river called the Mersey Tunnel. I was so scared and crouched below the crash barrier while heavy metal rushed past. I thought all my nine lives would be snuffed out. Then a big man called Sam stopped his car (and everything else including the Birkenhead bus ground to a halt). He gently picked me up and put me inside and drove to the toll booth on the Cheshire side and handed me in … they told him cats weren’t accepted for payment, but they got the RSPCA to collect me, and take me to their rescue centre. They fed and cleaned me and got me injected (and had my bits removed). Sam came to see me – he’s what humans call a Good SAMaritan. His Dad, Mervyn, told him that he’d like to give me a home, but first the RSPCA had to check that he would be nice to me. Then Sam took me on a long, long journey – I cat-napped most of the way – and I arrived in Ashwell – to stay. 

I’m really a Scouser (and a mouser with nouse) … I’m now named after Herbert James Rowse (1887-1963), architect for the 1930s Mersey Tunnel in which I was found (that’s typical of Mervyn, but I’ll humour him while I get my food on time). Things have gone downhill since Sheila, Mervyn’s helper retired. I’ve just read Mervyn’s 2012 Newsletter – ‘Masterly’ dressed up in those funny clothes! He says I’m a capricious Office Manager – what cheek! As you can see he’s got me studying a large book about an architect called Lutyens (who never built a tunnel under anything as far as I can see). This is to do with something he calls ‘the Milo Lecture’. 

I’ve seen that Mervyn’s Consort Ann (who’s had a lot more cats than his nibs) has now stated posting messages on the blog of the WCCA, so in all fairness let me have my say.

Yours in desperation, PRRRRR…ROWSE

webmaster's cat's recommendation for Xmas lunch

From the Boss Cat at 11 Silver Street 

Master Mervyn's meanderings - 6

The onset of December brought a distinct end of term feeling. The end of November was signalled on Friday 30/11 by Lunch with the Old Bailey Judges, almost a miss as the East Coast trains were disrupted by suicide at St Neots. By dint of driving fast from Biggleswade to Letchworth I caught a train from Cambridge, which made up for lost time by rattling down a main line free of expresses from the north and I arrived at 12.50, just as Sherriff Nigel Pullman, my host began rounding everyone up for the meal. His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke, next to me, had a daughter with a flat near the centre of Letchworth, which broke the ice for civilised conversation. Usually, guests are offered the chance to visit the Courts during the afternoon to witness Justice in action. As it was Friday, business has either been wrapped up or adjourned for the weekend, fortunate as the judge seated opposite could travel to his country house in Dorset. On Tuesday 4 December the Clerk and I attended the Marketors Company Lecture at Goldsmiths’ Hall, the most opulent of venues, to hear Professor Patrick Barwise expound on ‘Hitting the Sweep Spot: How to achieve Lasting Organic Profit Growth’, a title suggesting one of the lyrics from the ‘sixties Broadway musical ‘How to succeed in Business without even trying’. It was an exposition on ‘Druckerism’, propounded by an American marketing guru of the ‘fifties. As he spoke I reflected that brand recognition was a part of Victorian commerce – think of the Bisto Kids (still revived to help sell the gravy powder) and brilliantly successful despite (or possibly because of) limited media a century ago – press and posters and enamelled signs displayed at shops and on railway stations. The hearty supper after the lecture may not have included Bisto but it certainly cut the mustard for a cold might. 

Wednesday 5 December had a Reception for Adrian Waddingham’s Shrieval Election Campaign for June 2013, at Armourers’ Hall. I expect there will be more of this in the New Year, particularly as Common Hall approaches. I rushed on to the President’s Medals Ceremony at the RIBA, guest of Richard Brindley, who had flown to Brazil on Institute business. The Jarvis Hall was packed and all the recipients looked frighteningly young and self-confident. The exhibition was a fearsome display of what computer graphics can achieve. The Reception in the Florence Hall suffered from low levels of light, which made it difficult to recognise people. The building comes alive on these occasions, and I hope that some of this enthusiasm will be generated for my Milo Lecture ‘Lutyens in the City of London’ next February12 (calling notices are out so there’s no excuse not to sign up). What none of us knew was that the centenarian Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer had died – next day I posted a tribute on the blog and Richard, who had become the British spokesperson in Brasilia witness to the scene of mass grief for the man who had created the architectural image for their new capital city (cross reference to the relevant page of the blog). To end the week on Friday 7 December the ‘At Home’ at Southwark Deanery brought welcome calm and radiated the impression of a friendly family party. On the Embankment, a few steps from The Globe, the Deanery house is a rare Georgian survival, rescued from use as a paint factory, and faces what the Dean calls the best view in London. Looking out of the first floor windows across a windswept River Thames towards the floodlit south elevation and dome of St Paul’s Cathedral commanding the skyline, few would argue with him. 

A few days to catch up, do some Christmas shopping, and actually start preparing my Milo Lecture, and then one of the Landmarks of the Company year, the Annual Carol Service at St Lawrence Jewry, on Friday 14 December. I had chosen the music – organ voluntaries and carols for choir and congregation in liaison with Catherine Ennis (organist and choir master, who was unfortunately booked elsewhere on the night), Paul Weston had arranged the readings and our Chaplain, Canon David Parrott had signed the Order of Service off. A few ex-cathedra scares notwithstanding – notably the grinding halt to train services on the East Coast following the emergency evacuation of the King’s Cross signal box, which delayed arrival of Upper Warden Jaki Howes- all went ahead without a hitch. The music fitted the mood perfectly, opening with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ in its processional format, stimulating as with John Joubert’s proclamatory ‘Torches!’ to the tender melancholy of ‘The Coventry Carol’; traditional congregation sing-outs including ‘The Holly and the Ivy, ‘The First Noel’ culminating in ‘Hark the herald angels sing!’ The organ voluntaries by Franck (Pastorale) and Bach (‘Wachet auf’) set the scene, while we processed out to Karg-Elert’s splendid ‘Marche Triomphale’). All the readings went well. The buffet afterwards was most convivial, bringing a most memorable event to an appropriate end. 

Finally, (if you have been), thankyou for reading this. There’s lots, lots more to come. Meantime, Merry Christmas ans a Happy New Year from The Master.


I always knew that 2012 would be a roller-coaster year, but it’s been positively supersonic … 70 years came on July 23, and I celebrated it in style with a Luncheon Party at the Knebworth House Barns on 7 September, a perfect day with 60 family, friends and Livery Company guests. In a summer of poor weather we were blest with warm sunshine. A highlight was the presence of Joan, Eileen and Stella, three bridesmaids at my parents’ wedding in April 1936. On 18 September I was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects for 2012-3, at Waterrnen’s Hall in the City. Robert Adam, an architect with whom I have enjoyed working over the past few years made generous remarks in his reply to the guests. I’ve almost lost count of the events I have attended through the Autumn, including a charity walk round 40 livery halls, processing in two services at St. Paul’s Cathedral and in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and several black tie dinners. My events began with a visit to the Henry Moore Foundation, my Master’s Reception at the Artworkers’ Guild and a tour of the Royal Courts of Justice led by my cousin, Mr Justice (Sir Gary) Hickinbottom, and we are having our customary Carol Service at St. Lawrence Jewry on 14 December. Then a let up until the machine starts up again in the New Year! As my Consort, I have been fortunate and delighted by the support of my stalwart friend Ann Yorke, who enlivens every event that she attends (and she attended a ‘ladies only’ luncheon hosted by the outgoing Lady Mayor at Mansion House, which included a tour of the private apartment).  

Rewind to Spring 2012, on 31 March, Sheila, my aide for 23 years retired. This has impacted upon my ability to deal with a workload that has not lightened significantly, despite my regularly turning new work away. Happily Sheila and husband Alan have attended several Company events. Rowse also misses Sheila, and is rather capricious as Office Manager, but a true feline friend in times of stress. In April I was keynote speaker at the celebrations for the 75th Anniversary of Greenbelt, Maryland and in July I presented a paper on Barry Parker’s work before and after his two years in Brazil, when I attended the International Planning History Society conference at Sao Paulo. Unusually there are no more trips abroad planned until the Company visit to Finland in May 2013. 

The Olympic Games passed me by, although Ann and I sat through most of the televised opening ceremony in The George at Alfriston, on one of the Glyndebourne weekends. These included a witty production of Rossini’s Cenerentola, Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen, a hyperactive Purcell’s Fairie Queene (particularly the ‘Duracell’-powered bunnies) and (great relief) the best Marriage of Figaro I have ever seen, ingeniously updated to 1960s hippy Seville, with solid sets based on the heritage of Moorish architecture, a tough, credible production, far removed from neo-Rococo chocolate box Mozart (or the perverse modernism of the production that opened the new house in 1994). The pacing, acting and ensembles were up to the best standards. As I write this I am filling in the booking form for next year! 


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ladies wot Lunch & Opera

I have just been reading Mervyn's blog and felt that I should state that the Duracell powered bunnies, in the Fairie Queen, had a thing or two to teach the Kama Sutra - third paragraph; keep up at the back there - and we were in the seats where you rattle your jewellery, so got an excellent view. Not at all sure that I should let Mervyn take me to this kind of thing - Rinaldo the year before was another eye opener. I will lend out the DVD for a small sum.

the tired Duracell bunnies still in motion...
La Faerie Queene 'erself
Glad the thieves at the Henry Moore Foundation arrived just after we had visted and that they were caught; there is too much stupidity going on about the value of metal, although the price of gold seems to be rising again. Memo to Mervyn: Check the consort's badge, next time you see me.

Have also been to another Ladies lunch - ooooh the noise! - at the Tallow Chandlers Hall - and they weren't wearing hats either after all my efforts to get one, and they made some of us move places after the main course [why me?]. The only peaceful place was the loos, and since one did not want to miss the new Lady Mayoress speaking, you couldn't spend too long down there. Made even more new friends and had a great time bellowing across the table.

Another down payment on a black cab and I was back to Euston in time for the 3.23.

Happy Christmas to you all.

The Stalwart Consort

webmaster's comment:

wikipedia says " In Spenser's "A Letter of the Authors," he states that the entire epic poem is "cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devises," and that the aim of publishing The Faerie Queene was to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.”

Friday, 7 December 2012

from Brazil; on the death of Oscar Niemeyer

By coincidence I was in Brasilia as news broke of Oscar Niemeyer's death. I had the great privilege of being invited to witness the return of his coffin to the President's Palace (which he designed) for his lying in state and being interviewed for Brazilian TV news about his influence and contribution to architecture in the UK and impact of being awarded the 1998 RIBA Gold Medal.

The public outpouring of emotion and affection was very moving. Crowds lining the streets of his capital city to pay their respects, all flags at half mast and all TV stations and newspapers with large features about Niemeyer's work. It is hard to imagine such a reaction for any architect in the UK!

I am in Brazil by the invitation of the Brazilian Government, in my role at the RIBA, to advise on developing their new professional body and regulation of the 100,000 architects in Brazil, and also looking at opportunities on how UK architects can collaborate with their Brazilian colleagues. Being my first visit to Brazilian, it has been great to see the Neimeyer buildings of the capital in real life, and they even more remarkable in reality and a great contrast to the brash and busy city that now grown up around them.

I will never forget the experience of being part of the amazing tributes given to this amazing architect and being able to experience his amazing buildings.

Richard Brindley
WCCA Court Assistant - RIBA Professional Services Board


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Oscar Niemeyer dies aged 104 years

With Oscar Niemeyer are (L to R) a German student who joined the visit, Mervyn Miller, Cristiane Millard, Master John Millard, Jaki Howes and Tom Ball.


Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) has just died, a few days before what would have been his 105th birthday. Along with a few other members of the Company, I was privileged to visit his Rio studio, overlooking Copacabana beach, where he sketched projects, which were then worked up in a separate office. He reminisced about his life’s work and uneasy working relationship with Le Corbusier, which began with the Ministry of Education in Rio in 1937. Their stormy collaboration on the United Nations Building in New York gave rise to it being sorted out by Harrison and Abramovitz, whom Corb dismissed as ‘gangsters’. Famously Corb remarked to Oscar ‘OK- you do it the Baroque Way’, a reference to the sweeping curved forms which dominated his work from the 1940s, begining with the public buildings at Pampulha Garden Suburb outside Belo Horizonte, state capital of Minas Gerais, run by Juscelino Kubitschek. As President of Brazil, JK appointed Niemeyer to work with Lucio Costa in planning and building the new national capital, Brasilia, and getting a critical mass completed during the President’s single term 1955-60 so that there could be no going back. A remarkable achievement, the most iconic building is probably the Cathedral, formed of inclined curved precast concrete ribs, creating a corona in silhouette. And then there are the domes, featured in the Parliament building, and repeated ad infinitum in projects over the years, with distinctly erotic overtones – the curves, whether they be of the hills surrounding Rio, the sinuous canopies that linked his cultural buildings at Sao Paulo or the female body – were the fundamental leitmotivs of creativity.

Famously an outspoken man of the left, he was virtually exiled to Europe during the late 1960s, and designed the headquarters of the French Communist Party in Pars, and commercial and cultural buildings in France and Italy, before returning to his homeland under an amnesty in 1979. A close personal friend of Fidel Castro, he was commissioned to design a Monument to Anti- Americanism for Havana. He told us about this, sketching a horned devil’s head spouting flames, while muttering ‘Bush merde’ sotto voce – no translation necessary. I suppose that it won’t be built, although there will doubtless be ongoing projects taken to completion, as occurred with distinctly variable results after Frank Lloyd Wright’s death in 1959. The cultural centre at Aviles, Spain, element of which he sketched during our visit was completed in 2011, one of many ‘in progress’ projects we were shown in the downtown office. 

The links to the heroic ages of modernism are fast being broken. Oscar Niemeyer was one of the last and most prominent. Brasilia was recently declared as a World Heritage City by UNESCO – I wonder what Oscar made of this! It certainly remains one of the most rigorous realisations of the Ville Radieuse model, with its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Fifties sculptural concrete architecture is still controversial, but on this scale cannot be ignored, and Niemeyer was one of its greatest begetters.

St Francis of Assisi, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte 1940

Brasilia, main axis, 1956

Parliament 1960
Contemporary Art Musem Niteroi, Rio Bay, 1995-2000
Brasilia Cathedral 1959-70 Exterior
Brasilia Cathedral Interior

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Festival of Saint Cecilia: 21 November 2013

It was worth the swim from Euston, the high winds, the road works and the wretched students marching all over the place - actually it was interesting to find any students up and around at that time of the day - St Paul's was as imposing as ever, I got to wave to Mervyn - and if he persists in referring to me as Consort Ann again I will start addressing him as Master Mervyn [with the stress being on the Master bit] - the music moving and the innocent faces of the little choirboys leaving one with a belief in today's youth. In fact there cannot be much wrong with the world when you can go and hear a service like that on a wet Wednesday morning.

the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral

Lunch was great as well despite Mervyn going a bit white when the bill arrived.

Getting home was a nightmare. I think that I paid a deposit on the purchase of a black taxi, two trains were cancelled due to flooding, [I knew they should never have allowed Milton Keynes to be built] then arrival in Birmingham during the height of a storm and in the rush hour. Such is life. A memorable day yet again.
Stalwart consort of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects

Friday, 23 November 2012

A 'Test' remote hand-held blog post

Hello! from my i-pod touch

this post was made from my hand held i-pod touch, through my broadband connection, via wi-fi, using the official Blogger app(lication) on the hand-held, downloaded as described in the previous post.

Note the attached photograph of the office machine with the download window displayed!

YOU TOO could do this (and perhaps have more interesting content than this....)!

e-mail the webmaster if you would like to do this on the move too.

Blogger app for PC android, Apple i-phone & i-pad

The webmaster has been experimenting with an 'app' for i-phone which permits one to read the WCCA blog on a mobile phone.  It seems to work very well and the WCCA site is eminently readable on such a smart phone, as the blog automatically adapts itself for reading on a small screen.  

Maybe this app would suit i-pads large or small too...

Maybe you're getting one for Christmas ...?

to download the Blogger app for PC android

to download the Blogger app for Apple products

The WCCA web-site

The WCCA web-site has been improved… 

The Company is at present (23/11/2012) mid-way through the task of improving our web-site. We think that all the City Livery companies should make every effort to make their activities visible and their workings ‘transparent’. The Company’s web-site is an important aspect of this strategy. 

Until recently, the WCCA has had three separate locations for finding data that serves both the membership and the general public interest. 

They were: 
  1. The static web site 
  2. The blog site 
  3. The A6 paper Red Book issued to members annually 
1 - The first of these, a web-site created in about 2005 with the programme ‘Dreamweaver’, was then innovative but now seems modest in ambition. It transpired to be hard to edit on a frequent basis. It fell to neglect and omission. 

2 - The second, a newer experiment, allowed Company events to be easily recorded as they occurred by WCCA members themselves, and so give visitors some sense of the vitality of the Company. It used the Google ‘Blogger’ service – a ‘free’ service to the users. 

3 - The third location, a paper booklet that has been accurately up-dated annually, contains the private contact data of all the Company’s members and committees with other general information about the company’s history and Articles. 

These three elements have now been combined into a fully digital single web-site at a new (and simpler) web address:

All private access data has been redacted from the Virtual Red Book 

On entering this new web-site, a new ‘splash page’ appears - one that holds no data but acts only as an preface. You can click a button to choose the area that responds to the enquiry: 
  • Home 
  • The WCCA blog site 
  • The virtual Red Book 
  • The WCCA charities 
  • The WCCA students 
  • The WCCA travel award 
  • The WCCA newsletters 
  • The WCCA Facebook page 
The splash page will display a large photo of the winning design for the WCCA New City Building Award.  Maybe you have a suitable image for us to use? 

We hope that all members of the Company will experiment between the various pages of this new site and learn to navigate easily between them. Members should also consider making a contribution to the blog page, which is eloquent testimony to the activities and events that we all enjoy. At least put a ‘bookmark’ on your computers and i-phones. The site is re-formatted automatically for use on handheld devices and tablets.

Most of the pages and posts allow readers react and to make comments - click on the small 'comments' button at the foot of each entry.  After 'moderation' - checking the authenticity of the contribution made - these comments will appear to subsequent readers who are similarly interested in that particular topic.

At the foot of the ‘splash page’, there are two clickable ‘buttons’ that allow one to e-mail either the Clerk or the Company’s Web-Master. 

The project is underway and the bones of the new system are operational – now to the larger task of getting every detail up-to-date. Comments, corrections and contributions please!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Master's month of November - 5

On Tuesday 13 November Professor Robert Hill’s Horners’ Company Ralph Anderson Memorial Lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine addressed Polymers in hip replacement, spinal osteoporosis and dentistry – the very matters which those of us of a certain age might expect to encounter so it was good to be briefed in advance. Poly-this and that, poly-everything, except polyfilla, which was what the spinal injections actually looked like!  A hearty supper hastened recovery mode.  After a business meeting on the afternoon of the 14th I hurried to Mansion House to hear the new Lord Mayor, Roger Gifford, present his Annual Address to Masters and Clerks. Would he mention the hiatus with the coach the previous Saturday? He did. Rescued by the Pageant Master, he stood in the review vehicle, feeling like the Pope in the Popemobile ‘only not so holy’.  The address proper was concerned with his determination to retain the City in pole position as the World’s leading Financial Centre.  I can’t recall him mentioning the imminent performance of a ‘trading opera’ in the Egyptian Hall, which received publicity later.  And I only remembered that I should have asked him whether, as a musician, he would hold a performance of Walton’s  ‘A song of the Lord Mayor’s table’, (originally commissioned by the Goldsmiths Company about 50 years ago) when homeward bound to attend a virtuoso piano recital at Letchworth Music Club, in the Arts and Crafts Friends Meeting House.

Next day, 15 November, I had a train journey north to attend the Annual Dinner of the YORK GUILD OF BUILDING, with Consort Ann, at the 15th century Merchant Taylors’ Hall.  We met up at the station, then checked into our riverside hotel and enjoyed a late bar lunch looking out over the Ouse.  Waylaid by Stephen and Deidre, our initial plan of pithering around the mediaeval streets got no further that Yates’s Wine Lodge on the north bank.  The Dinner was a friendly occasion although someone slipped in referring to me as ‘Governor’ of WCCA.  The reply to the toast to the Guests was given by the property manager of York University – earnest and lengthy – I was tempted to ask for a CPD Certificate.  As the original master plan and buildings on campus were a sophisticated variant of the CLASP system and by Robert Matthew/Johnson Marshall it is not inconceivable that they might get listed… Pevsner’s verdict was ‘the best of the new (1960s) universities visually and structurally’.  So in its day was Merchant Taylor’s Hall, and still is, an enduring masterpiece of skilled carpentry.  

A brush with the complexity of present-day construction procurement came with a bang at the Annual TEAMBUILD WEEKEND, at Lane End Conference Centre, High Wycombe.  WCCA awards a prize and the Master is one of the judges (as is the peer contemporary Master of the Constructors Company). I arrived at 0930 on Saturday 17 November to the initial presentations by groups of young construction professionals across the construction piste as they launched into their site masterplanning proposals for a key block in the centre of King’s Cross Regeneration Area.  Had I known in advance I could have walked the site as I am to and fro the station several times a week.  As it was there was little time for briefing (advance material had been opaque) and I learned on the job, a hive of hyperactivity for the ten teams (as also for the judges with almost instant rating, following interviews with the teams, and feedback by the judges).  The exercises grew in complexity, with the wild card of redesign to accommodate a modified client brief; procurement, contract and risk (the phase of the WCCA prize); and on Sunday a detailed design of public realm; reaction to disasters on site, and finally a pitch for another project following successful completion of the first project!  The intricacies of BIM figured throughout, and those who had has some experience of this were sceptical.  

Sandwiched between two days was Saturday Night – the course formal dinner.  I had been allocated the Loyal Toast, which is not an onerous task and I relaxed with some serious imbibing.  Then came the cabaret by the three-room teams, all rivalry set aside.  And of course there was judging of three anarchic lunatic extravaganzas, with the judges line dancing (yes!) after announcing the result.  Things also hotted up on Sunday afternoon, with the finalists presentations, more judging, and the Awards Ceremony.  I got away at 6.30pm and mercifully the M40, M25 and A1 were all blissfully traffic free.  Even so I collapsed in a heap when I reached home.    

On Wednesday 21 November the Musicians Benevolent Society St. Cecilia Service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral; as with the Musicians Company evensong, another inspiring event.  I processed and waved to my Consort, who had been delayed by a late train.  Every St Cecilia service features a newly commissioned composition:  Alan Roth’s Jubilate Deo ‘Rejoice in the Lord all peoples on earth’ was as joyful as its title, with sharp fanfares from the trebles ringing out and reverberant in the long echo across the dome.  However, Walton’s ‘Coronation’ Te Deum was not eclipsed, even though I missed the tone colour of the original orchestral accompaniment.  After the service we processed out with Elgar’s noble Organ Sonata roaring out!  Having (probably due to the changeover of Clerks) missed out booking luncheon at Merchant Taylor’s Hall, Upper Warden Jaki joined consort Ann and I for a light lunch in the Paternoster Square Chop House.  It was raining hard as we left.  Sadly this disrupted Ann’s journey home through the sodden fields of Northamptonshire. 

written by Master Mervyn Miller

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Teambuild 2012

Team Prizes were sponsored by;
  • The Worshipful Company of Constructors 
  • The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects 
  • Saint-Gobain

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The City's stone bench competition on You-Tube

The short movie below, published recently on You-Tube, shows the unveiling of the winner of this recent design competition, which was sponsored by the WCCA and the Worshipful Company of Masons.  The bench is located behind St. Paul's Cathedral at the head of Cheapside, where it meets New Change (actually on the north side of the road intersection).

Chris Dove and Craig Mitchell, architectural students from Liverpool John Moores University, had been declared winners of the City of London Corporation’s Stone Bench Competition 2012. 

click below for more information

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Mistress* Ann Y visits Mrs.* Lord Mayor at the Mansion House - Ladies* who lunch

downstairs - the Egyptian Hall
I do not know why the Lord Mayor has a keep-fit rowing machine in his bedroom - if my bed was that high off the ground, a flying leap from the other side of the room would be sufficient to keep me fit.

Mind you, a previous Lady* Mayoress* suggested another way - she had photographs of her neices and nephews scaling the bedposts!

Oh! the disadvantages of the priviledged life!

There were eighteen guests and we all had a wonderful time. Not only the tour of the private apartments - a bathroom each; a separate kitchen and a robing room with easy access to the Banqueting Room balcony; this latter being about the size of the ground floor of my house - but delicious food and great company.

What a lovely luncheon. I will be dining out on the experience for many months to come.

Thank you Elizabeth Lady* Mayoress*.


[Mrs*] A Yorke

Stalwart companion* of the 2012-3 Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects

* difficult to know how to keep this 'politically correct' in gender terms - advice plz.
your blog-master

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Master Mervyn's meanderings - 4

In late October and November things got really busy. On Tuesday 23 I attended the Art Scholars’ Mithras lecture at the Dutch Reform Church in Austin Friars, given by Professor David Watkin on ‘The classical country house’. Watkin is nothing if not thorough and he presented the influence of Palladianism running as a consistent narrative thread from Inigo Jones and Colen Campbell, through to Edwin Lutyens and the ‘modern’ classicists including Raymond Erith, Quinlan Terry and Robert Adam. A pity he used scanned double pages from his recent book on the subject to illustrate his talk.

The following day, Wednesday 23 witnessed the unveiling of the prizewinning Stone Bench, from the student competition, which packs the experience of implementing a commission, visiting the quarry and working alongside the masons to achieve a notable addition to the public realm of the City, this year on a prominent corner of Foster Lane and Cheapside, overlooked by the Jean Nouvel development opposite, and more importantly by St Paul’s Cathedral. A sinuous curve of rising stone blocks created an admirable urban sculpture, if not the most responsive resting place for the tired anatomy (but proved a useful impromptu stand from which to view the Lord Mayor’s Show – see below). 

The theme of prizegiving was reiterated of Monday 29 October at Guildhall for The City of London School: the winner of the WCCA Prize was a personable young man who is already looking towards a career in architecture. Youth was literally at the helm on Tuesday 30 October, when Past Master Michael Wilkey and I attended a training day on HMT Iveson, at Tilbury Docks, where our ‘regiment’ the Orpington Sea Cadets were being put through their paces, many working on engines which would count towards a Technical apprenticeship. The Iveston was commissioned as a minesweeper in 1955, and saw service in the ‘cod war’ in Icelandic waters. Now permanently moored the ship provides leadership and life skills for the cadets under the watchful eye of CPO Mike Dickson. 

The Red Cross Charity Bluff Wine Tasting, at Glaziers’ Hall on the evening of 2 November was not the finest hour of the joint endeavour by the Architects and Tylers and Bricklayers Companies, but some of the wines were bizarre, including Indian and Turkish vintages. Better fun by far was the Ladies’ Luncheon at Mansion House, hosted by the Lady Mayoress, so my Consort Ann reported – highlight a tour of their apartment viewing the Lord Mayor’s bed, exercise machine, and goodness knows what else! 

Monday 5th saw the outdoor SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE at ST PAULS in the Garden of Remembrance, sombre yet splendid as we lined up to plant individual crosses, after the two minutes’ silence, when the massed standard bearers dipped their flags as The Last Post sounded. That evening I attended a most enjoyable Lecture and Reception at Glaziers’ Hall, given by Stephan Trumpter of the Swiss Stained Glass Research Centre: what was most fascinating was the link with many English glass artists of the 19th century who worked in Switzerland and added to the nation’s fine heritage of mediaeval glass. 

The Company visit to the Royal Courts of Justice on 6 November was a most successful sell-out, hosted by my cousin Mr Justice (Sir Gary) Hickinbottom, a man who relishes the quirky eccentricities of George Edmund Street’s icon of the Gothic Revival. The Great Hall is now used for badminton out of hours, while the basement incudes extra carving by Belgian masons who were practically imprisoned in the building as ‘blackleg’ labour during a vicious trade dispute, and had nothing else to do on their Sundays off! After a drink in Gary’s office, where I presented him with a framed reproduction of a painting of Temple Bar c.1798, demolished for the building of RCJ, and a cheque for the charity Personal Support Unit, it was across the road with Gary and his wife Caroline for a buffet and wine reception at El Vino; a convivial evening all round. 

The Silent Ceremony at GUILDHALL, on Friday 9 November was an oddball occasion, the passing of governance of the City from the incumbent Lord Mayor to his successor. The pageantry was present but muted: the only words spoken were the swearing in of the new man, Michael Roger Gifford, then lights were dimmed and presentation of the Sword, Mace and Shield occurred in dumb-show, virtually invisible – rumour has it that the power failed and microphones went dead during the 1973 Miners’ strike and we have been kept in the dark ever since. 

On Saturday 10 November, The LORD MAYOR’S SHOW was a highlight of the Civic Calendar. The Architects were somewhere near the tail with other modern companies. I was joined by Upper Warden Jaki Howes and Student Jenni White, and the procession was preceded by seemingly unending waiting on London Wall while the juggernaut was marshalled into place. Happily the forecast rain never materialised in full strength as we advanced towards Mansion House, where the Lord Mayor greeted us from the balcony, before going down to his coach to join the line. Not as many elaborate sponsored floats as before, but an impressive array of military hardware and uniforms. Somehow everything speeded up as we approached St Paul’s and we were practically running to keep up – at least it kept out the cold. We finished near the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Lord Mayor lunched – lesser mortals made do with cardboard sandwiches and crisps, washes down with champagne, aboard the Wellington, the Mariners Company floating livery hall. Then return via the embankment and Queen Victoria Street where the crowds were jubilant. Standing down at Guildhall yard, we headed towards Painter-Stainers Hall where the regalia is kept, to find that The Lord Mayors’ return had been delayed by a fault with his coach – beyond even the resources of the AA whose own hiatus in the procession was hardly the best advertisement for their breakdown service.

written by Master Mervyn Miller

Sunday, 21 October 2012

What the Master has been up to... 3

Monday 1/10 was COMMON HALL at Guildhall for the annual election of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. As a Liveryman I’ve done this several times, but this was special. As Master, I took Breakfast at Carpenter’s Hall, then went to the Guildhall crypt for robing, and marshalling for the procession to St. Lawrence Jewry for the Service. Then back across the yard for the processional entry into Guildhall, the full panoply culminating in the Lord Mayor. The election is by acclamation: not the democratic ballot. I’ve often thought of it as ‘Politburo with Pageantry’, and splendid it is! Afterwards an excellent luncheon at Haberdashers’ Hall rounded the proceedings off nicely. In the evening I was guest of my cousin Mr Justice (Sir Gary) Hickinbottom at the Bakers’ Company Dinner, excellent food in convivial surroundings. My grandfather Sam Hickinbottom built up a successful bakery in the Black Country after redundancy as an ironworker by selling bread made by his wife Martha off a handcart: such was the spirit of enterprise in 1896. 

The Musicians Company Evensong at St Pauls Cathedral late afternoon on 3/10 was another great occasion, its pageantry complemented by apt music at one of the great Anglican ritual services. Choral music aside, the most moving item was the Guildhall Strings playing Elgar’s Elegy beneath the twilit dome. After a quick bite at the Reception, reunited with my consort Ann, it was hotfoot down Cheapside to the ARBITRATORS’ CONCERT at St Mary le Bow. An intriguing combination of organ music, a virtuoso Ukranian pianist-composer and a vocal duet culminated in Rossini’s hilarious Duet for two cats, which as usual brought the house down. 

On Monday 8/10 Stephen Wagstaffe and I joined our new 'regiment' the Orpington Sea Cadet unit on their visit No. 10 Downing Street, informal, informative and fun (no difficulty with security!) where we were welcomed by Larry, the Downing Street cat. The unit was very smartly turned out with the cadets in immaculate naval ratings' dress and their 'top brass' in formal frock coats with brass buttons, gold braid around the cuffs and peaked caps. The guides couldn't have been more friendly. As we sat round the Cabinet table, one of the youngest took David Cameron's seat: I was opposite in Nick Clegg's place. Photographs were taken, and I hope to get these from the unit. We proceeded up the cantilevered stair, its well lined with portraits of every Prime Minister from Walpole, and into the State suite used for receptions. We were invited to sit in all the furniture: a girl cadet stood up pretty sharply on being asked 'Are you comfortable?' - 'Yes' - 'You might be interested to hear that that chair (gold French ormolu) is insured for £1 million'! We also amired the plaster vaulting by Sir John Soane, in the State Dining Room and in no. 11 in Geoirge Osborne’s Conference Room. It was a great occasion, and Stephen and I felt privileged to be hangers on. On October 30th my predecessor Michael Wilkey and I will travel to Tilbury to see the unit training on shipboard. 

Back to Haberdashers on Wednesday 10/03 (?) for the Tin Plate Workers Court Dinner, another lively affair. Andrew Balcombe, Master, had been a guest at my installation, when we both shared our penchant for the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Andrew, whose proud boast is that he has lived on the same double page of the London A-Z map, is the latest of three generations of Company Masters, a dynasty only feasible with the patrimony of the older companies, and the top table was a roll call of family. 

So to Tuesday 16/10, my own Master’s Reception, was held at THE ART WORKERS’ GUILD HALL, Queen’s Square, Bloomsbury. The Guild was founded in 1884 as a coming together of architecture and the crafts associated with building. I am a Brother of the Guild, and I invited their Master, George Hardie (resplendent in robes designed by C F A Voysey) to tell us something about this singular organisation, together with Simon Hurst, the architect who recently restored the hall (which was built as a laundry). Around 40 people spent an informal and informative evening, with appreciative feedback. 

On Thursday 18/10 I attended the Turner’s Company Reception at Carpenters’ Hall. This celebrated their exhibition Wizardry in Wood, a comprehensive demonstration of their craft since mediaeval times, including artefacts recovered from the Mary Rose wreck of 1545. The hall was filled with skilled craftworkers, demonstrating turning and selling their wares. The court room contained the prize exhibits, scarcely believable in their complexity and delicacy unless assisted by the wizardry of Harry Potter!

written by Master Mervyn Miller

Monday, 15 October 2012

The sea cadets


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The sea cadets and the Master visit Downing Street - 2

George's meeting room in No. 11

In this post we show Stehen Wagstaffe's photographs of our visit to No. 10 Downing Street and the private conference room used by George Osborne in no.11 - and the present Downing Street cat, Larry

This visit was made by our new 'regiment', the Orpington Sea Cadets unit, with whom my predecessor, Master Michael Wilkey has signed up a connection.

The visit, on the afternoon of Monday 8 October 2012, was informal, informative and fun, and we were langourously welcomed by Larry, the Downing Street chief mouser. The cadet unit was very smartly turned out with the the cadets in immaculate naval ratings' dress and their 'top brass' in formal frock coats with brass buttons, gold braid around the cuffs and peaked caps.

Our phones were left in the hall, before the tour commenced. The guides couldn't have been more friendly. As we sat round the Cabinet table, one of the youngest cadets was in David Cameron's seat: I was opposite in Nick Clegg's place.

We proceeded up the cantlevered stair - its well lined with portraits of every Prime Minister from Walpole - and into the State suite used for receptions. We were invited to sit in all the furniture: a girl cadet stood up pretty sharply on being asked 'Are you comfortable?' - 'Yes' - 'You might be interested to hear that that chair (gold French ormolu) is insured for £1 million'!

It was a great occasion, and Stephen and I felt privileged to be hangers-on to the cadets. 

On 30th October 2012 Michael Wilkey and I will travel to Tilbury to see the unit training onboard ship.

The Soane meeting room

a 'secret' roof light

The Master at the helm of State

Larry the cat
written by Master Mervyn Miller

The new 2012 Master - Mervyn Miller writes... 1

Master Miller

The Installation usually takes place around 10 September: this year it slipped back to the 18th so the first two events were a taster, literally. On 11/09 the Modern Companies Dinner held at Staple Inn, High Holborn was a useful way of meeting my peers. Two days later it was the Court Leet of the King’s Manor Jurors’ Dinner at Old Bailey, as the guest of David Cole-Adams, soon to become our Clerk Emeritus, and in early October Master of the Tylers and Bricklayers. I’m not sure that I understand the esoteric origin of this organisation, but this is true of so many City of London institutions. It was certainly an event which featured good conversation in unusual surroundings.

The real thing occurred on September 18, the Installation Court and Lunch held at Watermen’s Hall, a delightful 18th century building. I’ve witnessed the Court procedure many times, but it was unnerving to be at the centre, with the transition made elegantly by Michael Wilkey, and David Cole-Adams reading my declaration, and those of my Wardens – Jaki Howes, Geoffrey Purves and Peter Murray, before I replaced him (after twelve years’ outstanding service) with Ian Head. There was a public tribute to David, and presentation of his Clerk Emeritus ‘feathers’ at the lunch. Susan Wilkey passed the Consort’s badge to my stalwart friend Ann Yorke. I was supported by family and friends, as well as many familiar faces from the Company, with the Master Tin Plate Worker and Master Information Technology Company as Company guests. The principal Company guest was the architect Robert Adam, who spoke about the challenge of globalism in architecture and referred to our work together. 

On 20/09 the Livery Halls Charity Hall Walk brilliantly organised by the Company of Environmental Cleaners launched a band of begowned, chained and hatted men and women from Armourers’ Hall on a zigzag route through the byways of the City of London, to and from the extremities of Glaziers Hall, attached to the south abutment of London Bridge and HMS Wellington on the Embankment, with a refuelling stop for lunch at Bakers’ Hall and concluding with a cuppa at Grocers’ Hall. I stayed the course of 8.5 miles and forty halls and raised £900, of which £200 will go to the Lord Mayor’s Charities, the remainder to our WCCA Charitable Trust Fund. 

Open House Saturday 22/09 saw me in St Stephen Walbrook, one of Wren’s most perfect churches, usually hidden behind Mansion House, but now exposed by demolition for redevelopment of the massive Bucklersbury site. The circular Henry Moore Altar in St Stephen’s gave a portent of an event the following week. On Sunday there was a lunch generously given by David and Mary Cole-Adams at their home in Muswell Hill, for the Masters (and their spouses) that he had served. A delightfully informal event, with abundance of good food good wine and good company! 

Nothing until Thursday 27/09. The Guild of Air Pilots Tymms Memorial Lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society was an insight into the complex logistics of the aerial warfare of the First Gulf War, somewhat drily presented by Air Chief Marshall Sir William Wratten, not my favourite topic, but a comprehensive view of the almost labyrinthine command structure. The next day Friday 28/09 saw my first planned Company visit, to the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green, near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) was the archetypal Yorkshireman yet he spent over 45 years working in rural Hertfordshire. In 1940 his London studio was damaged in an air raid and he moved out to rent part of an old farmhouse ‘Hoglands’ that he’d heard about through friends. Surprisingly he stayed put, bought the whole house and established the first of many studios, dotted around a domain that includes major sculpture set in a garden designed by his wife, Irina. The whole is now administered by the charitable foundation, set up in the late 1970s. We had an outstanding day, visiting ‘Hoglands’ in the morning, its artistic clutter ranging from pre-historic and ethnic sculptures, to paintings by Courbet and Manet, interspersed with antique and 1950s furnishings. The afternoon tour included the Bourne studio with its outlook on the sheep field, the subjects of his sensitive sketches, and the Aisled Barn, a mediaeval structure relocated from one of his farms, hung with tapestries from the Singleton workshop, taken from some of his most characteristic graphics, including the wartime Shelter Sketchbooks. The guides were all excellent with insights into the man and his motivation. Between tours we lunched in ‘The Hoops’, now owned by the Foundation, where we were well fortified. Not even the bouts of inclement weather could dampen our enthusiasm.

this post written and illustrated by Master Mervyn Miller

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Aldgate Installation

Alderman Peter Hewitt of Aldgate Ward and Michael Wilkey, the Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, cut the ribbon to inaugurate the new Aldgate installation sponsored by the Company on July 27th 2012. An exhibition of archaeological finds from the area, organised by Museum of London Archaeology was on display and suitably Chaucerian tots of mead were served. 

The installation marks the location of the historic Aldgate – where Chaucer lived from 1374-1386 - and the start of High Street 2012, the route to the Olympics. It forms part of the London Festival of Architecture and and will remain in place throughout the Olympics and Paralympics.

Created by the young, award-winning architects, Studio Weave, the construction is supported by the City Property Advisory Team (CPAT) and eight other Worshipful livery Companies and will be built from sustainable British Larch supplied by BSW Timber. It is sponsored by 4C Hotels Ltd, funding which was facilitated by Dexter Moren, a member of the Company, and architect to 4C for the nearby Aldgate bus station site.

A gate stood at Aldgate from the Roman Period until 1761. From 1374 to 1386 Chaucer (1343-1400) lived in the rooms above the Aldgate. Studio Weave’s design is inspired by the two dream poems written by Chaucer while resident in the rooms above the gate from 1374 to 1386. ‘The House of Fame’ and ‘The Parliament of Fowls’; both include images of fantastic dream-like temples of impossible materials and scale, elevated on precarious, precious structures above vast, bizarre landscapes conceivable as analogies for the City.

Paleys upon Pilers is an abstraction of the uppermost room of the old gate and an invocation of Chaucer’s luxurious dreamed temples. The structure consists of a kind of timber embroidery and will sit in the air above the busy Aldgate High Street, supported on pillars decorated with images from Chaucer’s illuminated manuscripts.

Studio Weave is an emerging architecture practice profiled as one of “Britain’s Brightest Young Architects”. The studio’s work encompasses a diverse range of projects from furniture and art projects, to buildings, landscapes and urban design. Since setting up in 2006 we have delivered a number of award-winning projects including ‘The Longest Bench’, a £475k seafront regeneration scheme in Littlehampton, West Sussex that recently won the 201 Civic Trust Award for Community Impact and Engagement; ‘Freya and Robin’, two allegorical pavilions peering over the water as part of the Kielder Art and Architecture Programme, Northumberland; the ‘Floating Cinema’, a project for the Olympic Delivery Authority to transform a canal boat into a travelling host for film screenings, and St Pancras Church Garden, a new public space in the City of London on the Scheduled Ancient Monument site of a Romanesque church lost to the Great Fire of 1666.

The installation is built from British Larch supplied by BSW Timber, the largest sawmilling business in Great Britain with six sawmills in the UK and production capacity of over 1,000,000 cubic metre of sawn timber per year.

Supporting Companies:

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects 
Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors
Worshipful Company of Clothmakers
Worshipful Company of Carpenters
Worshipful Company of Lightmongers
Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants
Worshipful Company of Paviors
Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers
Worshipful Company of Fruiterers
Worshipful Company of Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders

Professional team: 

Architects: Studio Weave
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop
Development Managers: M3 Consulting
Planning Consultants: DP9

Funded by: 4C Hotel Group
British Timber supplied by BSW Timber Group
Timber grown by Forestry Commission Wales

Streetworks by: Conways
Concrete donated by: Laing O’Rourke
Fabrication and Installation by: AB3 Workshops
Pattern Design and Print by: Linda Florence

Ground Scanning and Services: Reach Active
Barriers donated by: John F Hunt
Legal advice by: Ashurst LLP
Archaeological monitoring and input by: Museum of London Archaeology


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Election Court, Annual Service and dinner at Pewterers Hall

one of the many charters of a very old livery company

examples of fine craftsmanship

John E C Dyson is invested in the Livery by Master Wilkey

certification of the event

Monday, 9 July 2012

The 2012 Drawing Prize

click on the images to enlarge them into a new window

*Vivat, vivat Cornwall!
The winners of the Jonathan and Victoria Ball* Award, the Drawing Prize for 2012 were:

RIBA Part 1 winner; Samantha Horn of London Metropolitan University
The Touqan Palace, a ruined 17th Century fortified palace in Nablus, is proposed as the public epicentre (incorporating community spaces and artists’ studios) of a network of interventions across the city. The interventions increase connectivity and facilitate existing activities at roof top level. Rooms added to existing buildings in the Old City provide a place to stay for cultural and ethical tourists, creating the possibility for cultural exchange and providing an income for local families.

and RIBA Part 1 'runner-up'; Oscar Plastow of Kingston University
56 Artillery Lane is a fine example of a Georgian East London merchant's building. It was built  around 1690 on land that was previously a weapons practice ground. Later, in the 1750's, the buildings were transformed into luxury shops in the Rococo style by Huguenot silk merchants, protestant settlers from France.

An A1 pencil drawing

RIBA Part 2 winner; James Decent of London Metropolitan University
The drawing illustrates a proposal of a new building within the estate of Hardwick in Derbyshire. It was important that the drawing conveyed the landscape of trees and parkland. The topography staggers up a natural embankment before levelling at a flat plateau. The existing Elizabethan houses known as Old Hardwick Hall and New Hardwick Hall form a skyline on the plateau edge. The new building sits between these halls, mediating them in scale and proportion.

and RIBA Part 2 'runner-up'; Haiwei Xie of the Royal College of Art

The B.R.I.C House
The drawing shows an integration of architecture and landscape, which is the result of The B.R.I.C House proposal --- an alternative housing strategy, centred around the idea of a “public living room", for the Chelsea Barracks site in Westminster. Employing “family tree urbanism” as an organisational strategy, houses are located around an organic water-scape that is based on a rigorous analysis of the culture of the B.R.I.C nations. The intention is to create a high-quality but low-price, high-density but low-rise housing development aimed at a diverse and multi-cultural society.