Installation of Sarah Mullally as 133rd Bishop of London
Saturday 12th May 2018
St Paul's Cathedral
This was a special occasion; to be part of the installation of the first female Bishop of London. The Bishop of London ranks third in the Church of England hierarchy behind the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The diversity is always welcome and diversity ranks high on the new Bishop's to do list. Sarah Mullally has a remarkable CV; she rose swiftly through the NHS ranks to become the youngest ever chief nursing officer at the age of 37.
When it comes to pomp and circumstance and rich pageantry, the Church of England can put on a very good show. If added pizazz is required then pull in the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, Alderman, Common Councillors and a hundred plus livery masters and prime wardens. The latter formed by a chapel and organised themselves into order of precedence. I am now an old hand at this game and sought out Master Furniture Maker, Tony Smart, who was participating in his last event. The Furniture Makers are number 83 and the Pipe Makers are 82. As we processed (in order of precedence) from the West Door to the Dome area, the Nave was packed. I spotted the navy feathers of my Mistress's hat in one of the front rows of the Nave and we smiled. The masters and prime wardens carried on under the Dome and took our places in the Quire. It was a great privilege to be in this part of the Cathedral.
The only downside of being sat in the Quire is the acoustics. The choir sounded magnificent but for all the splendour of Wren's masterpiece, the sound system echos around the Cathedral and I heard the new Bishop of London's sermon from at least 4 different directions at slightly different times. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable event with finely choreographed pageantry. After the Clerics had processed out, the Lord Mayor's party set off and, finally, a wandsman appeared to signal our departure. We processed to the West Door ... and stepped into the rain.
The next stop was to drop off my gown and chain and walk over to Guildhall for the reception. After chatting to fellow masters and hoovering up canapés, we were addressed by the Lord Mayor and the newly installed Bishop of London. The speeches were witty, warm and, above all, crystal clear.