Guildhall Library

Guildhall Library
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Guildhall Library, the library of London history, holds the world’s largest collection of material devoted to a single city. With titles from the 13th century to the present day, it tells the remarkable story of 2,000 years of life in the capital and covers all aspects of life in London, past and present.

Our free temporary exhibitions focus on the library’s collections and the history of London, from the history of the City Livery Companies to Shakespeare and the Great Plague. Accompanying the exhibitions programme is a series of exciting events, including lectures, late views and receptions.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

Opening hours

Mon to Fri (except Wed) 09.30 - 17.00
Wed 09.30 - 19.30
Alternate Sat (check website for dates) 09.30 - 17.00

Closed: Bank Holidays and Saturdays of a Bank Holiday weekend

Admission charges

Free. Some events may incur a charge.

The History of London collection is a Designated Collection of national importance.

The collection is held at the Guildhall Library and the London Metropolitan Archives, and traces the history of the City of London and Greater London. The History of London collection is a unique, extensive and incredibly rich collection of material on the history of Britain’s capital city. The collections reveal the impact of London on social, cultural, economic and political developments in the rest of the country. The collection also reflects the central role of London in the globalisation of the economy and culture since the 18th century.

English legal and parliamentary material
Business history
Books on food and wine
Maritime history including Lloyd's marine collection
Holdings from our Manuscripts collections date from the 11th century and include the archives from most of the City's parishes, wards and livery companies and much more.
Prints and Maps section is the primary source of London's history, our collection of drawings, engravings, maps, portraits, satires, photographs and ephemera spans more than 400 years and shows how artists and surveyors have viewed the changing metropolis.

Collection details

Trade and Commerce, Social History, Maritime, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Image from a broadside, 1665

London's Dreadful Visitation

  • 8 July — 11 September 2015 *on now

The Great Plague was a haunting event in the City of London, wiping out almost 100,000 people. Whether young or old, man or woman, saint or sinner, it killed mercilessly and changed London forever.

Guildhall Library's exhibition takes you through plague material, from books to broadsides, which reveal more information about this devastating period of our history.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Magna Carta

  • 17 — 25 September 2015

The Guildhall Librarians have looked in to the collections and found an eclectic variety of books relating to the Magna Carta. These include an early translation into English, items by Wilkes and Left-Handed Liberty, a play by John Arden commissioned by the City of London for the 1965 celebrations of Magna Carta. A selection of these finds will be on display accompanied by the timeline produced by What on Earth Books, which makes connections between the Magna Carta and British history.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Talbot House Sign

Talbot House: 'An Oasis in a World Gone Crazy'

  • 12 October 2015 — 8 January 2016

In 1915 army chaplain Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton established the Everyman’s Club at Talbot House in the small town of Poperinge, only a few miles from the front line in Ypres. In this house rank was irrelevant, orders were prohibited, and all soldiers were encouraged to forget about the war. This exhibition tracks the story of Tubby and this ‘oasis’ for soldiers during the First World War. It will include items from Talbot House, the memoirs of Tubby and the actual hut in which he wrote them after fleeing the Germans.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Guildhall Library
City of London



Guildhall Library


020 7332 1868

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.