The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
Fishmongers' Hall. 1665.
Previous to the incorporation of the companies of salt-fishmongers, and stock-fishmongers, the fishmongers had halls, but upon their joint incorporation they agreed to have but , namely,
This fabric, which was destroyed by the fire of London, appears to have been a plain narrow edifice, castellated and covered with lead, having principal stories, the lower of which had a kind of gallery or balcony. On its destruction the late hall was erected from the stately designs of sir Christopher Wren, and might be considered as a noble specimen of his intention to ornament the banks of the river Thames, had his entire plan for rebuilding the city been carried into effect. This hall occupied an extensive plot of ground between and the river, at a
|short distance from the north end of , the chief front being towards the river of which it commanded a fine view. The entrance from being under a long passage, ornamented in front with sculptured pilasters sustaining a open pediment, in which are the company's arms, and on each side a dolphin. This portion of the edifice still remains. The buildings environed a square court paved with flat stones; the hall, which formed the south side of the court was a very spacious and lofty apartment, handsomely fitted up, with a capacious gallery going round the whole interior. At the upper end behind the seat of the prime-warden, was an ornamental niche, wherein was a full sized statue, carved in wood, and painted, of sir William , knt., who was a member of this company, and is represented in the dress of his time, his right hand grasping a dagger, reputed to be the identical weapon with which he struck Wat Tyler from his horse.|
This dagger is evidently belonging to the period, viz. the latter end of the century, it is of neat workmanship, without inscription of any kind, the blade is formed of sides concaved, and is in length from the hilt inches, the hilt is inches, and across the guard, inches. The above is a correct delineation of the weapon, from the original, which is carefully preserved by the company. Below the niche is inscribed the following lines:--
If there be not much poetry in this artless verse, observes Mr. Brayley, there is at least some fiction; for the dagger, as it is called, in the quarter of the city-arms, was certainly intended for the sword of St. Paul, the chosen patron of the corporation, and was borne centuries previous to the age of and his compatriots. Horace Walpole says that the above statue was made by Edward Pierce, the statuary and architect, who died in . There is an expression of strong muscular energy in the countenance of this figure, which was probably carved from some genuine likeness; the eyes are large, and the beard dark and bushy, with whiskers. In the windows at the same end of the hall
|was some painted glass, displaying the arms of England, the city, the goldsmiths' and fishmongers' companies; and under the gallery were numerous shields emblazoned, with the arms of the successive prime wardens. In front of the gallery was a very large and clever picture of the gallant admiral earl St Vincent, which was put up at the expense of the company, in veneration of his great talents and services.|
In the court room were full lengths of the sovereigns William the , and Mary, his consort, Frederick prince of Wales, and his consort, &c. and curious pictures, apparently from the Dutch school, of various kinds of fish, which are grouped with much skill, and excellently coloured. An apartment above, contains other pictures, full lengths, of the late margrave and margravine of Anspach, executed in , by Romney: these are in a loose, sketchy style, but are regarded as good likenesses the connection of the margravine with the company, arose from an invitation given by her to the company, in an excursion up the river Thames, to land at Brandenburg-house, then her residence. Here also was a portrait of W. Sturch, esq. prime warden, -, it is a half length by T. Phillips, esq. R. A.
The chief part of the edifice was of brick, but the front next the Thames was ornamented with stone window cases, quoins, &c. the latter being wrought in rustic: and the summit of the building terminated by a cornice, having a large central pediment, in the tympanum of which were the royal arms of Charles II.: from the wharf was an ascent to the portal of the hall by a high flight of stone steps. The north buttress of the new London-bridge abutting on the eastern part of the hall, the city were obliged to purchase a considerable portion, for which they paid to the company.