20 Dec

A highlight of our year is the Carol Service at All Hallows by the Tower, our affiliate church in the City of London.

Within the shadow of the Tower of London, All Hallows dates back to 675AD. It is one of the few City buildings to have survived the Great Fire of London and has witnessed both the baptism of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and organ recitals by the polymath physician Albert Schweitzer. The church is our spiritual home and now hosts a stained glass window commissioned by the Company.

The service this year was extra special as last year’s was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst certain restrictions were in place, the service was live streamed to members who were unable to attend and we still enjoyed an excellent turnout. The officiant was the estimable Reverend Katherine Hedderly, who cast a light of compassion and wisdom with her sermon describing the work of the church in supporting the refugees from Afghanistan. The music was provided by the World Traders Choir who sang Christians Awake,O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, finishing with Adeste Fideles in Latin and English.

The readings were given by World Traders from many different backgrounds, including our relatively new member, Freeman George Riddell. Mary Hardy, our Master, read John Betjeman’s Christmas poem which was full of irony and twentieth century modernism, a great antidote to the sugary Victorianism of most festive poems.

We adjourned to Trinity House, where we dined on up-market fish and chips, Christmas pudding, mince pies and chocolates shaped like brussel sprouts. As we left for home, we enjoyed, in the words of Betjeman, the London shops “strung with silver bells and flowers / as hurrying clerks the City leave / To pigeon-haunted classic towers, / And marbled clouds go scudding by / The many-steepled London sky.”

Zoe Buckingham