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The Installation of the new Master Bowyer, Thursday 17 July 2014

On a beautifully sunny and warm day the Rev John Hayton TD was installed as the Master Bowyer for the next two years at St Botolph's without Bishopsgate. The good weather facilitated the taking of photographs in the churchyard before and after the ceremony and the sun streaming through the Bowyers' window added greatly to the close links the Company now has with the church.

The service was conducted by the Company's chaplain, the Rev Dr Alan McCormack who is the Rector of St Botolph's. It was a serious yet joyful occasion that saw the exchange of Masters and the formal and public commitment of the Company's new officers to their responsibilities. In listening to the repetition of the ancient oaths of office, it was possible to remember that for more than 700 years our Bowyer forebears have without interruption made their contribution to the long history of our Company.

The music at the service was superb with the church choir augmented by trumpeters and a drummer. The Master read the lesson from Genesis chapter 9 that referred to God's covenant to Noah: "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth." Dr McCormack's sermon was spellbinding as he explored the oath that the Master and Wardens had just sworn. In this service at St Botolph's the newly installed Master sits in the first pew immediately under the pulpit so that the Rector is able to look straight down at him. With great emphasis the Rector followed his analysis of each element of the oaths just sworn with the dire warning "or else!"

Lunch was held in St Botolph's Hall on the other side of the churchyard. The food and wines were excellent and contributed to a memorable time for us all. The Master thanked Immediate Past Master Michael Wren for his great distinction and warmth in his period as Master during which there had been three different clerks. John Hayton paid compliments to his wife Althea, through whose family he had been introduced to the Company. He also introduced Althea's sister and brother; the latter had come over from Australia. Althea's family has strong connections with the Bowyers going back three generations and including John, six Masters. The Master went on to explain that, as Althea was seriously ill, she would not be able to act as Mistress Bowyer. He did, however, introduce the lady, Mrs Vicky Cooper, who was going to act as his consort during his Mastership. Guests made it very clear with a spontaneous burst of applause and acclamation their admiration and deep respect for Althea and John.

This whole event was a wonderful example of the coming together of the wider family of the Bowyers to celebrate the installation of a new Master and their gratitude to the previous Master. We all came away refreshed and renewed, happy that our great Company will "flourish, root and branch forever."

SJAR 28 July 2015

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