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Master's Day, Wednesday 13 July 2016

The installation of Tony Kench as the Company's new Master, Ian Spring as Upper Warden and Mark Elliott as Renter Warden took place as part of the Bowyers' Service at St Botolph-without-Bishopgate on a lovely sunny day. The Officers and members of the Court of Assistants, in City morning dress, were welcomed in the church by the Company's Chaplain, the Revd Dr Alan McCormack.

Our Clerk, Lt Col Anthony Marinos, read the oath of office to the new Master, who swore to uphold its obligations, upon which the outgoing Master, the Revd John Hayton TD, invested Tony with the Master's badge. Tony in turn invested John with the badge of Immediate Past Master. The new Upper Warden and Renter Warden duly swore to uphold the obligations of their oaths too, and were invested with their badges of office. The Chaplain blessed the new Master as the choir sang an extract from Psalm 34: "O taste and see how gracious the Lord is: Blest is the man that trusteth in him."

This was a most moving moment for the new Master and for all the congregation as we realised that this was a continuation of a ceremony going back many hundreds of years. The Company had flourished in the times of the Hundred Years' War, then lost most of its trade to firearms and fell upon hard times, but since the 19th century has been a vibrant repository of good fellowship and concern for others.

The Master read the lesson from 1 Corinthians 13; there could not be a more rewarding reading for our Company. It contains, in the King James' Version, some of the best known sayings from the New Testament and finishes with the importance of charity: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Charity is indeed the focus and the wellspring of the Bowyers' Company.

The choir, who numbered four ladies and four gentlemen, sang beautifully, filling the whole church with their voices to the Master's chosen music of Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Parry and Ireland. The congregation clearly knew well all the hymns and sang their hearts out. The totality of the service was very moving and all of us present felt ourselves to be part of a vital tradition linking us with the past.

Dr McCormack's sermon was, as ever, a tour de force. He complimented the outgoing Master's assiduous presence at City events, joking that "he was like God - everywhere!" He then focused on the ancient oath that the Master had just sworn, and encouraged him and the Company to live up to it to the best of all our abilities. The bidding prayer ended with this request: "May the Holy Spirit fulfil the Master, Wardens and Society with the grace of wisdom, justice, zeal and charity, that all may truly endeavour themselves to serve Thee for the good of all thy people through Jesus Christ Our Lord."

With a break in recent tradition, the subsequent Luncheon was held in Gow's Restaurant, Old Broad Street, just a few paces from the church. There all enjoyed pan-fried scallops with lentils followed by grilled cod with chips and mashed peas; the food and wine were a delight and set the seal on the installation of the new Master.

Tony paid tribute to the credit brought upon the Company by the IPM and his consort Mrs Veronica Cooper: they had had a very busy time with many events within and outside the Company, and also in connection with the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt in which the Bowyers had played such an important part. John had worked tirelessly for the Company and had enhanced its already strong sense of fellowship. All present paid their tribute to the IPM and warmly welcomed the new Master with a spontaneous round of applause.

Dr Sinclair Rogers JP
Honorary Court Assistant

Further photos from Master's Day may be viewed on the website of Michael O'Sullvan Photography:

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