Vintners’ Hall, 46m south of St James’s Church.
Reasons for Designation
A livery hall is a type of guildhall belonging primarily to the London livery companies (chartered companies originating from the craft guilds), but also found elsewhere in the country. It is so called because of the livery worn by members of the guild. Guildhalls were traditionally the hall of a crafts, trade, or merchants’ guild but latterly had many different functions and became recognised in the 19th century as town halls. Some livery or guild halls were built in the medieval period but they became more widespread in the 17th and 18th centuries. The classic form was often a first-floor meeting room, raised on arcades, incorporating an open-sided market hall on the ground floor. They also often included administrative rooms or offices. During the eighteenth century increasing architectural elaboration was given to halls, reflecting the success of livery companies, the growth of municipal self-awareness and urban identity. Until the Municipal Corporations Reform Act in 1835, boroughs (corporations), which were often based at guildhalls, acted as private bodies that existed for the benefit of their members rather than the community at large. The Act reformed the administration and accountability of incorporated boroughs and they subsequently gained greater municipal power and responsibility. This was reflected in the scale and architectural adornment of later guildhalls, which became high points of Victorian public architecture.
Despite alterations and restoration, Vintners’ Hall survives well with some well preserved 17th century features. It provides a significant testament to the development of commercial activity and trade regulation in the city of London. The site will contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to the Roman and medieval waterfront and the medieval hall.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 29 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a late 17th century livery hall, altered in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is situated between Upper Thames Street and the north bank of the Thames in the city of London.
The building is three storeys high and of Portland stone with two additional storeys or attics in a hipped slate roof. It was originally designed with two wings at either end of the Hall, together forming three sides of a courtyard open to the street. However this has since been filled in and the Upper Thames Street frontage now dates largely from the early 20th century. It is designed in ornamental, northern renaissance style with a rusticated ground floor at the centre of which is an arched entrance. A colonnade above links the east and west wings. The east wing is of four window bays with pilasters rising between first and second floor level. The west wing is windowless but includes much ornamentation with garland and wreath decoration at ground floor and second floor level. The interior includes late 17th century carving in the Hall and Court Room and a late 17th century staircase.
The Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants) is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London. It gained its first Royal Charter in 1363 and was bequeathed the current site in 1446. The original hall burnt down in the Great Fire of London but a new hall was built and in use by 1671. In 1822, alterations were carried out when Upper Thames Street was widened and in the early 20th century a new façade and entrance were built. Further alterations and restoration were carried out following bomb damage during the Second World War.
Archaeological and environmental remains relating to the Roman and medieval waterfront of London are considered to underlie the site and are included in the scheduling. Between 1989 and 1991, partial excavation on the site and in the close vicinity recovered remains of the kitchen of the medieval hall including several hearths. It is within the vicinity of ‘The Vintry’, an area established in the 14th century where wine, imported from France, was offloaded and stored within houses, vaults and cellars.
Vintners’ Hall is Grade I listed.