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.
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
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
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.
Trade and Commerce, Social History, Maritime, Archives
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
- 17 October 2016 — 31 March 2017 *on now
Photographer Eugenio Grosso takes you on a photographic journey through time from the foundation of London to the present. By overlapping Roman and contemporary maps, a shared geography emerges showing how much of the Roman settlement has been preserved through the centuries. This exhibition displays photographs of spots which were once home to significant Roman sites, bringing the original face of the city back to light.
- Any age
Marie Duval: Laughter in the First Age of Leisure
- 9 December 2016 — 17 March 2017 *on now
Isabelle Émilie de Tessier was a London actress, cartoonist and illustrator who worked under the pseudonym 'Marie Duval'. Her work first appeared in a variety of the cheap British penny papers and comics of the 1860s -1880s, for urban working class people.
This exhibition at Guildhall Library is the first one dedicated solely to Duval's work as a nineteenth century pioneer of the art of comics. The exhibition and Archive have been produced by the University of Chester, in partnership with Guildhall Library, with the support of the British Library and the London Library. It is made possible by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The exhibition is inaccessible during afternoon talks.
Books: Used and Abused
- 27 March — 19 May 2017
A book is a book is a box, bible, bling, expanding file, notepad, inadvertent container… Used and abused, the older a book is, the greater the chance that someone has altered its material content in an unusual or thoughtful way. See how and why books are customised, adorned, despoiled and disguised. And find out what happened to the biggest and the smallest books in Guildhall Library's collections.
Women's Voices from the Police
- 9 March 2017 6-8pm
The role of women in policing the City of London is one of the most significant changes in the City of London Police Force over the past seven decades, seeing them rise “from giving advice to girls who have drifted into bad company and visiting the parents of children caught pilfering” to positions of highest authority in the force.
Join our panellists who will reflect on their own personal experiences and also highlight some of the challenges facing women in the police today.
Detective Chief Inspector Kerrie Gower, Detective Chief Inspector Claire Cresswell; Special Constable Sylvia Edwards
Retired members of the City of London Police: Belinda Harding MBE, Pam Mayes and Cathy Robertson
Chaired by: Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court.
An event especially organised to celebrate International Women’s Day. Includes a wine reception.
£5.90 including a wine reception after the event.
City of London
020 7332 1868