Guildhall Art Gallery showcases collection of 850 years of London Livery Company treasures

Ruth Hazard | 28 June 2012
This portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons, by Hans Holbein the Younger, is just one of the rarely seen exhibits on display at Guildhall Art Gallery© G Bond
Exhibition: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick-Maker: 850 Years of London Livery Company Treasures, Guildhall Art Gallery and London’s Roman Amphitheatre, London, until September 23 2012

With all eyes on London this summer, The Guildhall Art Gallery opens its new exhibition celebrating one of the capital’s most historic, yet rarely commemorated, institutions – The City livery companies.

For anyone not familiar, these are the 108 trade and craft associations of London, originally developed as guilds to regulate their professions, controlling wages and labour conditions.

Fishmongers Turtle Shell Shop Sign (circa 1800). Gesso and oil on turtle shell, on loan from the Fishmongers' Company
In a display likely to fascinate city-natives and tourists alike, the rarely seen collection of objects span the livery company’s history, from its medieval origins to its present-day incarnation as a supporter of charity, education and the future of its trades.

Exhibition highlights include the oldest recorded livery charter, the only known pair of Scarlett-type temple spectacles in the world (thought to date from around 1730) and the left hand coronation gloves of both Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II.

On June 29 the gallery will host Late View, Tricks & Trades, an evening of music and entertainment exploring weird and wonderful crafts and trades (6pm-10pm).

Visitors will be able to sup on specially designed cocktails while making jewellery using traditional basket-weaving techniques, before enjoying performances by burleque fan-dancer Bettsie Bon Bon and card tricks by the Close Up Magician of the Year– a tie in with the exhibition’s historic examples of fans and playing cards produced by the city’s Livery companies.

More details on the website.
  • Open: 10am-5pm (12pm-4pm Sunday). Admission £5/£3.
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