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date: 20 August 2019

Livery halllocked

  • Priscilla Metcalf


Building that houses the headquarters of a livery company or guild, or association of merchants, craftsmen or traders, so named from the trade’s distinctive ceremonial livery. Houses or buildings belonging to late medieval guilds or fraternities of merchants survive in several cities (e.g. York, Merchant Taylors’ Hall, interior c. 1400, and Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, c. 1580), but the livery companies and their halls are specifically associated with the City of London, emerging in the 15th century with the development of guilds and lay fraternities. The late medieval type of large hall with ancillary rooms persisted in City livery halls, despite their almost complete rebuilding after the Great Fire of London in 1666. All but three were destroyed in World War II.

The livery hall is not a seat of government or of active trade: it houses the administration, business meetings, charity-dispensing and social gatherings of the company members. While there is no exact equivalent elsewhere, the activities of the livery companies may loosely be compared with those of the Venetian Scuole (...

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