You probably looked at the title of this post and wondered what a livery hall is. Well, it’s the hall of a livery company if that helps!
Still confused? A livery company is what the guilds are called in the City of London – that is, the governing body for each trade. While some of them are venerable, like the Fan-Makers, the Apothecaries and the Wheelwrights, others are more up to date – Air Pilots and Navigators, Insurers, and Information Technologists.
There are 38 livery halls in total, but many of them can’t be visited (unless you’re 오나홀 attending one of the many meetings and events held in them). Some of them can, though; and some are truly stunning just to see from the outside, like Goldsmith’s Hall on Gresham Street, a magnificent classical style building of 1835.
Goldsmith’s Hall often holds exhibitions – I saw an amazing display of work by goldsmith Paul de Lamerie there some years ago, including pieces with wriggling snakes, seashells, seaweed and lobsters. Outside exhibition times, the Goldsmiths’ Company holds open days roughly once a month, with a free guided tour. The hall was built to impress, with a monumental staircase and marble-panelled walls; you can feel the accumulated wealth of the goldsmith’s trade in every inch of the building.
The surviving livery halls are almost all rebuildings – many companies lost their halls in the Great Fire of London, others in the Blitz. Only the Merchant Taylors’ Hall retains significant medieval buildings; the great kitchen that provided food for the Livery Company’s feasts and the crypt of its chapel.