The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
Merchant Taylor's Hall.
This extensive edifice is situated in , on the
| site of the |
of a worshipful gentleman,
who in the year , ( of Edward III.)
made it over in trust for the Company, to John de Yakesley, the king's pavilion-maker. This messuage was afterwards called the New Hall, or Inn, to distinguish it from the ancient hall of the company in . The hall and many portions of the building are ancient, but some parts of the structure being destroyed by the fire of London, and subsequently rebuilt, the arrangement is, in consequence, irregular; the whole was extensively repaired about or years ago. The front exhibits a portal, consisting of an arched pediment supported on columns of the composite order, with an ornamental niche; above the pediment are the company's arms. The hall is a spacious apartment; from the style of the architecture it was apparently erected in the early part of the century. In the eastern wall is a single window, the arch of which is obtusely pointed; it is divided in breadth by mullions into divisions, which are subdivided into stories by a transom; all the compartments thus formed have cinquefoil heads. The north side is partially concealed by houses, but the south side is visible from the garden of the hall; it is made by buttresses into divisions, of which contain windows only differing from that already described in having mullions and consequently fewer compartments. The walls and buttresses have a modern ashlaring of Portland stone, and the upright is finished with an entablature; these works are not in the best taste. The north side assimilates with the described. The interior has been deprived of its best feature by the destruction of the timber roof by the great fire; the ceiling is plastered and is without ornament. At either end of the hall is a gallery; the eastern has a screen, parting the vestibule beneath from the rest of the hall; this screen is of oak, carved and ornamented in an elegant style. It is made into compartments by Ionic columns fluted and cabled, they are raised on pedestals and sustain an entablature; in of the divisions are doorways, the centre arched, and the side ones lintelled and covered with pediments; the remaining divisions have niches containing statues of Justice and Mercy. Above the lateral doorways are the following inscriptions:
The screen is otherwise ornamented with rich and elegant relievo's of fruit and foliage. Above this is the music gallery, from
|the front of which the flags and banners of the company are displayed during festivals. The hall is wainscotted to the height of the window sills, and set off with Ionic pilasters. The west end of the hall suffered by the fire, and has been rebuilt, with a gallery outside the walls, but communicating with the hall, by a triple arcade, sustained on Corinthian pillars. In this gallery is a fire-place with a handsome marble frontispiece bearing the date of , and surmounted by an urn. On the north side of the dais at the west end of the hall, is a semicircular arched recess for a beaufet, and on the other side, corresponding with it, is an entrance leading to the parlours. On the dais is a mahogany table about feet long, and others of exceeding large dimensions are situated in the lower part of the hall parallel to the side walls; the tables bear the date , and the arms of the company on shields.|
At the sides of the hall are numerous shields, emblazoned with the arms of various masters of the company; and behind the master's seat, are inscribed in golden letters, the names of the different sovereigns, dukes, earls, lords spiritual and temporal, &c. who have been free of this community. Here also are whole lengths of William the , queen Mary, Charles the , and James the , and a full length portrait of sir C. Hunter, in his robes of the office of mayoralty.
The hall will shortly undergo a repair, in which it is intended to ornament the roof, and place some stained glass in the windows; it is to be hoped that this wealthy company will not lose the opportunity of appropriately embellishing the ceiling, in the style of the main building. To the south west of the hall, are the rooms next to be described, and a handsome staircase.
In the binding room is a picture of
The king is attended by archbishop Warham; Fox, bishop of Winchester, Willoughby lord Brooke; and in the fore ground the clerk of the company is exhibiting a list of the sovereigns enrolled among its freemen. In this apartment are also portraits of clerks of the company, and above the mantel-piece a fine bust in marble of Mr. S. Dobree, late of the court of assistants. Against the flats of the staircase, which is spacious, are whole length portraits of the following lord mayors, all merchant-taylors; sir William Turner, ; sir Patience Ward, ; sir William Pritchard, ; and sir John Salter, .
In the lower parlour are portraits of the following persons :--sir Thomas White, lord mayor, ; Mr. J. Vernon, Mr. R. Dow,
| air Robert Rowe, lord mayor, ; W. Pell, esq. aged , died ; all quarter lengths; Charles I. and II.; Mr. R. Gray, died , aged . There are also portraits of a man and a woman, well painted, without names, and apparently of the century. The wainscotting of this room is curious; above each of the doors of entrance is the following inscription:
Surmounted by a shield of arms, on a bend engrailed a cross crosslet fitchee crest a demi-lion, holding in his paws a crosscrosslet or.
The other inscription is similar, only the name of Clarke precedes that of Rolls; this is surmounted by a shield, or a fesse dancette bezants bet een billets az. charged with lions rampant of the . Crest, an arm couped below the elbow, grasping in the hand a roll of parchment the hand proper habited charged with bars dancette
Above the mantel-piece, and in different parts of the room, are some exquisitely carved wreaths of foliage and fruit, by Gibbins.
The enrichments of this apartment are of the Corinthian order. The ceiling is pannelled by flying cornices into square compartments.
In the prince's chamber, above the mantel-piece, is a full-length portrait of the late duke of York, in his field-marshal's uniform, with the mantle of the order of the garter: it is a spirited likeness, and is particularly brilliant in parts, and the head is undoubtedly the best likeness extant: it was painted by sir T. Lawrence, P. R. A. and cost guineas.
This is a very handsome apartment; the enrichments are of the composite order.
The kitchen belonging to this splendid establishment is situated to the south-east of the great hall: it is nearly square in plan; the walls are very lofty, and the entrances occupy the whole breadth of the north side. low-pointed arches, the headways enriched with mouldings, the central being wider than the side ones, formed the original entrances, the centre being the only used at present. Above, are lofty windows; the arches are of the same form as the doorways. Against the remaining walls are built capacious fire-places. The present ceiling is plastered, and is of modern construction: the corbels which sustained the original wooden roof, still remain. In the west wall is a window, with a pointed arch, partially concealed by a chimney; it is walled up; but the mullion which partitioned it into lights, still exists. The age of this room is of the same period as the great hall. Perhaps no part of the building gives a greater idea of the wealth and respectability of this company than the kitchen; the number and magnitude of the fire-places, the
|loftiness of the walls, the space and antiquity of the room, have the appearance of a baronial or collegiate establishment.|
A vestige of the earliest erection of the hall in the century still exists in a crypt, which is situated near the north-east angle of the hall, partly running under the entrance court; it is now used as a coal cellar. The following is a ground plan taken from actual admeasurement for this work:
The vaulting is very simple ; it is divided by arched ribs crossing from side to side into divisions, which are again crossed by diagonal ribs issuing from the same impost. The points of intersection are without bosses. The imposts consist of corbels formed of grotesque heads, sustaining octangular capitals. of the heads are engraved.
The materials of which the walls of the crypt are formed, are chalk and rag-stone, and the architecture is distinguished by solidity and plainness rather than by its ornaments.
The dimensions are as follow:
 Stow's Sur. p. 143. edit. 1597.
 The anniversary meeting of the great characters both of church and state, who compose the corporation of the sons of the clergy is usually held here.
 Mr. Maitland says the inside of this hall is adorned with hangings, which contain the history of St. John Baptist; and which, though old, are very curious and valuable. None of these hangings remain!
 Pen. Lond. p. 379.
 Founder of Jesus college, Oxford, died Feb. 11, 1566, aged 72.