Guildhall, City of London
15th century

Click on the smaller photos to enlarge
Notes in italics are from London 1: The City of London  by Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner (1997)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London

London Guildhall

The centre of the civic complex is still the great C15 Guildhall, with George Dance the Younger's Hindoo-Gothic porch in front ... Second World War bombing raids burnt out the Hall ...
Built by the master mason John Croxton or Croxtone from 1411 to c.1429 ... It is known to have been at least the third Guildhall on the site ... In spite of all that has happened to it in the Great Fire
(1666) and the Blitz and all it has undergone in the hands of restorers and re-doers, the size and pride of the C15 work can still be appreciated. Perp, eight bays long, lying E-W with tall transomed two-light windows high up in the S and (concealed) N walls. ... Massive octagonal corner turrets with buttresses, which continue along the sides. Everything to window-head level is to Croxton's design, though renewed ... 
Above the windows the restorers take over. To Sir Horace Jones's medievalizing in 1864-8 are due the raised turrets and their pinnacles, the crocketed buttress-gables and the plain parapets ( Croxton's hall was crenellated, with pinnacled buttresses). Jones also added a big single fleche with a spirelet ... Sir Giles Gilbert Scott followed Jones in this when he reroofed the shell in handsome green Collyweston slates, 1953-4. The crenellated clerestory behind the parapet is also Scott's, where Jones had dormers ...

London Guildhall porch          P1040022-transf-crop2-h540-u1t2-q50.jpg (82096 bytes)          P1040022-transf-crop1-u1-h540-u0.3-q40.jpg (75618 bytes)

Competing for attention with the medieval and neo-medieval work is the deep Portland stone porch of 1788-9 by Dance the Younger, surprisingly daredevil in its mixing of Gothic, classical and Oriental motifs. Croxton's two-storey porch of c.1425-30 survived the Great Fire ... Dance incorporated the C15 lower storey into his new work, repeating the forms of the entrance in the shallow projecting doorway. Nine bays in all, divided into three by fluted buttresses continued up as big square pinnacles sporting hexagonal finials and Greek bits and pieces. Eccentric cresting on the parapet and doorcase. Bands of quatrefoil lozenges between the storeys. These lozenges and the cusped-headed pointed windows derive from William Hodges's Select Views of Architecture (1786): the earliest example of Indian influence in English architecture, entirely characteristic of Dance's 'unshackled' eclecticism. ...  The E part of the porch, truncated by Jones c.1865, was rebuilt 1909-10 by Perks, and the whole  wing reconstructed in 1966-9 by Richard Gilbert Scott, accommodating the cloister of the W extension (see top picture).   

P1040026-transf-varlt-u3-h540-u0.3-q40.jpg (89569 bytes)     P1040034-transf-soft-varlt-u3-h540-u0.3-q30.jpg (78388 bytes)     P1040037-transf-soft-u2-h540-u0.3-q30.jpg (68671 bytes)     P1040041-soft-levdkmid-varyr-u2-h540-u0.3-q30.jpg (87941 bytes)

First picture looks east, the others west. Only inside does the Hall's grand scale become fully apparent. It was the second largest structure in the medieval city after St Paul's, and at 151 ft (46 metres) by 48 ft (14.5 metres) the largest civic hall in England, inferior only to the royal Westminster Hall (240 ft, 73 metres, by 67 ft, 20.5 metres) as a single-span chamber. Interior details are much pulled about, but the original treatment of the walls is preserved. Splayed windows in two tiers, each with a single flanking panel. ... Between the windows substantial wall-shafts, of the typical C15 form of triple shaft and hollow moulding, with foliage capitals and octagonal caps. ...
In each end wall a splendid nine-light window, divided 2-5-2 ... Tracery of the central group with two-light sub-arches, flanking a panel-traceried central light. Similar two-light sub-arches to either side, with panelling, mouchettes and a quatrefoil above. The proportion from base to apex is that of an equilateral triangle. ... 

The present roof by Scott is of 1953-4, with pointed stone arches and a clerestory on concealed steel trusses. What Croxton's roof was like has been much debated ...

Furnishings. All post-war apart from the restored monuments. Chandeliers, panelling and wooden galleries in C15 Gothic style ... are to Scott's design. ... On the big W gallery (altered 1972) loom the sculpted giants Gog and Magog, by David Evans, 1954. ...

P1040036-transf-crop-varlt-u2-h540-u0.5-q50.jpg (80535 bytes)     P1040044-transf-crop-levrgb-levmid-u2-h540-u0.5-q60.jpg (72622 bytes)     P1040036-transf-crop1-h540-u1t2-q50.jpg (66832 bytes)     P1040040-transf-crop-soft-varlt-u2-h540-u0.5-q50.jpg (81212 bytes)

Monuments. Five spectacular groups of statuary, with some C20 additions, conceal much of the lower walls. ...
The younger Pitt by Bubb, 1806-13, a stilted group with Apollo, Mercury and Britannia on a sea-horse.
Lord Mayor Beckford, 1770-2 by J.F. Moore, stiff and uninspired. Beckford poses in mid-speech between reclining allegories of the City and Trade in mourning.
The elder Pitt by Bacon Sen., 1782, the liveliest and most satisfying group. Pitt is in Roman dress, attended by Commerce, the City, and Britannia reclining on a lion to receive bounty from a cornucopia held by cherubs.

P1040028-soft-varlt-transf-u2-h540-u0.3-q40.jpg (74246 bytes)     P1040042-soft-transf-crop-varlt-u2-h540-u0.5-q50.jpg (69860 bytes)     P1040050-transf-levltmid-u2-h540-u0.5-q40.jpg (77823 bytes)     P1040033-crop-u2-h740-u0.5-q40.jpg (79813 bytes)

Nelson by James Smith, 1806-10, with Neptune, Britannia (with Nelson's portrait) and the City. Relief of Trafalgar on the plinth ...
Wellington by John Bell, 1856, high on a pedestal between Peace and War ...
Royal Fusiliers' memorial, 1907, with bronze figures by Pomeroy, inserted in the panelling of the walls.
Finally in 1955 the Valhalla or Pantheon of statues was increased by a seated bronze figure of Sir Winston Churchill, by Oscar Nemon.

P1040047-transf-crop-varyr-varlt-u1-h1400-q30.jpg (146032 bytes)

Historic trials in the Guildhall

P1040020-transf-soft-varlt-u2-h540-u0.3-q50.jpg (93936 bytes)

On the eastern side of Guildhall Yard, the Guildhall Art Gallery by Richard Gilbert Scott, completed 1999. 

P1040016-transf-valt-clon-u2-h540-u0.3-q30.jpg (68525 bytes)

View into Guildhall Yard from Gresham Street.
Wren's St Lawrence Jewry on the left (more here)


The Guildhall Website

Wikipedia entry for the Guildhall

More London Buildings

Home Architecture Index Email:  Maps Link  (U.K.)

All photographic images on this website are Copyright the website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full size originals (3-6 megapixels)  are available for approved purposes.