A cold but clear December evening and Liverymen, their families and guests assembled in the church of St. Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield for the annual carol service.
At the Master’s request, the Tower Captain, Paul Norman and his team rang the historic bells to welcome us all splendidly. St. Bartholemew’s has a ring of 5 bells, instead of the more usual 8, and these were cast in what became the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and date from 1510.
The interior of this ancient church, lit by candles, provided a wonderful atmosphere for the occasion.
The congregation, supported by St. Bartholemew’s excellent choir and organist, sang carols enthusiastically, and although some were familiar, some were less so. Lessons were read by the Clerk, Upper Warden Susan Wood, Assistant Lt. Col. Simon Wilkinson, Liveryman Dr. Christopher Horsburgh and the last lesson, by the Master. The Chaplain, Colin Semper, addressed us with his usual good humoured sensitivity and wisdom before the final carol, ‘O come all ye faithful’.
At the end of the service, the bells rang out again, as we went on our way, most to enjoy a welcome dinner in the Haberdashers’ Hall, just a few minutes from the church.