The Master2023-02-20T08:45:32+00:00


The Master is the most senior member of the Company who chairs its governing body, the Court, and represents the Paviors Company externally. The Master normally serves a one-year term of office and is elected by the Court of Assistants. He or she is supported by two Wardens who, in normal circumstances, are expected to succeed to the position. There is a four-year ladder to Master: 1) Second Warden-in-Nomination, 2) First Warden-in-Nomination, 3) Renter Warden, 4) Upper Warden, and 5) Master.

John May

John William May was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors in the 747th year since its formation, at a ceremony held in the Wren church of St Martin-within-Ludgate on Wednesday, 8th March 2023.

John is a Man of Kent, born at Rochester during a Test Match against South Africa – and a train strike – events that have set the path for his life. The sound of bells from the Cathedral tower began a connection with Rochester Cathedral that is at the root of his Anglican faith. The train strike set off a deep interest in transport that continues. The discussion on Test Match Special that was taking place as he entered the world began a love of good conversation coupled with the suggestion of the imminent opening of fine wine. England’s victory over South Africa – by an innings and five runs – set the scene for marriage to Lizette van Tonder – also in Rochester Cathedral. Her Afrikaner heritage and sketchy ideas on the outcome of the Anglo-Boer War provide invigorating challenges which they share at their cliff-top home near Dover and their flat in the heart of the City.

John qualified as a solicitor in the City, at an office conveniently fronting El Vino’s wine bar in Fleet Street where consideration of legal matters would only occasionally interrupt enjoyable conversation. After further experience in the Cities of London and Westminster, John became head of the commercial property department at a leading Knightsbridge firm before setting up his own practice and he continues as a consultant solicitor and Notary Public.

John has participated in all aspects of the Paviors since being admitted to the Livery in 2003, including leadership of the Lodge and Chapter. John has had long service as a member and later chairman of the Charity Committee, in particular promoting support for the London Construction Academy which provides a route to employment in the building industry for those not in employment, education or training.

A focus of John’s work in the Livery over many years has been developing relationships with our military affiliates, particularly with 29 Squadron RAF who allowed him the privilege to fly supersonically in their Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft.

As a practical Pavior, John has organised his neighbours in the private road where he lives to convert what had appeared the relics of trench warfare into a finely paved roadway. He now seeks guidance on slowing the speeding traffic that has resulted.

John’s Master’s Challenge during the year is obtain sponsorship to try to qualify as a building labourer at the London Construction Academy, to experience the work long supported by the Paviors Charity. His personal charity for the year is The Remembrance Trust, which works to preserve the memory of those killed in action before 1914 and so are outside the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


24 April 2024

A month into the role and the Mastership is proving even more interesting than I had expected. Firstly, our engagement with Charity in the City and beyond. Lizette enjoyed her [...]

15 March 2023

The first week as Master Pavior has been a delight and a privilege for which I am extremely grateful to you all. It has also been a good introduction to [...]

27 November 2022

The 2022-23 Master and Mistress Pavior - Neil and Milly Sandberg - walked the South Downs Way over several weekends to raise £5000 for the London Construction Academy. The trail [...]

1 September 2022

It seems extraordinary that I am already six months into the role – the weeks and months have flown by. Past Master Hugh is a very hard act to follow. [...]

24 December 2020

Dear Pavior You may say that my year as Master has not turned out quite as the Mistress and I envisaged - and you would not be wrong. But we [...]

10 July 2020

​I chaired my first Court meeting last night - possibly quite often a scary moment for an incoming Master. There were 33 in attendance on Zoom! Whether or not my [...]

5 June 2020

An urban myth has it that the Chinese Premier, Chou En-Lai, when asked in the early 1970s about the historical effect of the great French Revolution, replied that it was [...]

20 March 2020

In view of very real problems being experienced on the ground elsewhere, and the many letters and emails we are now receiving about Covid-19, the Paviors Company may not be [...]

30 September 2019

​This summer has been a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our military affiliates. This started with 29 Squadron, when I visited Coningsby with my consort Maurice, and fellow Pavior [...]

31 August 2019

Common Hall, or indeed almost anything at the Guildhall, has to be a highlight of the year when you are Master. From gathering in the basement to don your gown [...]

15 July 2019

I continue my round of beautiful, but smaller livery halls, which is a particular treat as we are limited to a few larger halls for most of our dinners. I [...]

29 May 2019

Another eventful month, started in great style, when I attended the annual Kohima Dinner, courtesy of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lt-Col Brennan Dwyer. Arriving at Canterbury [...]

6 April 2019

It’s exactly a month today since the Installation ceremony, and the time has flown by, as every Master will tell you. However, the highlight of this month has to be [...]

17 December 2018

As I sit down to write my seventh Blog since having the privilege of becoming Master, I will this week attend my 100th function of the year. Fittingly, this is [...]

5 October 2018

I very much trust you and your families had a relaxing summer and enjoyed the pleasant weather which has continued into October. After a wonderful holiday in France, I have [...]

14 August 2018

I was honoured to be invited by our Army affiliate, the Third Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (3PWRR), to join them during August on exercise manoeuvres ‘Northern Strike’ at [...]

16 July 2018

Firstly, I must thank all of you who supported my fund-raising Walking the West Wales Coastal Path>walk along the West Wales Coastal Path. To date, we have raised a magnificent £15,190. [...]

3 July 2018

As Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, I am used to lots of questions about the organization and my role within it. As you might guess from our name, [...]

8 May 2018

This is my second blog and I am sitting in some discomfort and stiffness having spent a couple of days training for my West Wales coastal footpath Master’s Challenge. Yesterday [...]

26 March 2018

​First and foremost, many thanks for putting your trust in me. I will take on the honour with enormous enthusiasm and pride, and of course with a great sense of [...]

6 March 2018

As I sit here writing what is my final blog, I have now been in post for a year and three days, and have only one more event to attend [...]

22 January 2018

As I left Merchant Taylors’ Hall on the night of 30 November, our Autumn Livery Dinner, I found myself musing on what had made it so enjoyable. We had experienced [...]

31 October 2017

The last time I put pen to paper for a Paviors’ Blog, it was still summer: a faded memory now, but I know that many of you got away. I [...]

31 July 2017

July opened with our Court meeting and dinner at Cutlers’ Hall. I was particularly pleased to confirm Matthew Pryor as a Liveryman (my first) and Neil Courtier as an Honorary [...]

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